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Campaigners in Manchester have launched a petition to keep Sackville Gardens, site of the UK’s largest trans* festival Sparkle and Manchester Pride’s Candlelit Vigil, free for the use of charitable and community groups.
The petition has arisen in response to claims that Manchester City Council will be implementing charges to organisers which might be as much as 60p per head. To give an indication of price, organisers claim this will increase the costs of the annual Sparkle event by an estimated £2,000 a year – a figure the charity can’t afford.
Tony Cooper, Chair Friends of Sackville Gardens, said: ‘The fact that every event that is held in Sackville Gardens has to present an Event Management plan which includes a waste management plan and a clear-up operation shows that this is purely a money-making scheme for the council. Restoration costs are already built in to pay for any damage done to the park so there is no justification for these charges to a registered charity it is purely about the council making money off the back of an LGBT event. Friends of Sackville Gardens receives no money from these charges or from the council and benefits in no way from these charges.’
Sparkle is a free, charitable event that serves and supports the local community. As the UK’s largest LGBT+ festival with a specifically trans* remit, it is especially important to Manchester and the UK.
Sackville Gardens, which is home to a memorial statue for the computing genius Alan Turing, is an often-used space for the local community – which has hosted events as varied as plays, poetry recitals, cabaret and dog shows. Manchester City Centre has charged for larger-scale events in the past – with The Village People Weekend organiser Paul McAvoy claiming its own costs were a much more reasonable £330 – but other events have been allowed to run for free.
Bringing in these charges would create a precedent across the board for other charitable and community groups who currently use the park for free and are already required to provide plans for how they intend to clear the space after use.
Picture courtesy of Sparkle.