Council criticises festival as workers are left with no money after event

IN DEBT The Castlemas festival

Organisers of a popular Tonbridge Christmas event have been publicly criticised for failing to pay traders, performers and the borough council. Most of those working at the event were local.

The festive fair, Castlemas, took place in December, yet Robert Styles, director of street scene at Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council (TMBC) said organisers had not warned of any problems but ‘continued to advise that the event was performing well, and without the significant issues that have now come to light.’

In an open letter published this week he added: “As a Council we have received a high number of complaints/enquiries from suppliers, staff and performers who are unable to contact you.

“They are understandably deeply upset and anxious to know if they will receive any payment that they are due.”

There were also Council invoices outstanding from the event in December, he went on, but stressed ‘many of (the creditors) are local business and individuals.’

The Castlemas festival was first organised in 2021, to take advantage of pent-up leisure demand after the previous ‘pandemic’ Christmas.

However, Mr Styles’ letter makes clear that event had been ‘adversely affected by the Covid pandemic’ and that the council had received ‘financial reassurances’ as a result.

He told the organisers they would not be permitted to ‘use our (TMBC) land for any future events, even if you should clear your outstanding debts.’

The Times approached Bravo Productions, run by Hannah Rotchell and Oliver Tourle, for comment.

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