The future of Brighton Pride is in doubt again after reports its organisers owe creditors up to £200,000.
Pride (South East) have today called the release of the financial documents which outline the event’s debts “unhelpful” and a “misrepresentation” of the event’s position.
They also said a statement confirming they would cease trading was released prematurely last week and negotiations with creditors are ongoing.
Today’s statement in Gscene says: “Pride (South East) issued a statement on Friday 3rd February outlining the rejection of a VAT refund and associated financial problems. The Trustees role has been to work with suppliers and other partners to seek acceptable solutions; this work has been on-going in recent weeks and still continues.
“The Trustees recognise the anxiety the local community has regarding the future status of Pride and they have been working hard to reach a clarified position which could then be explained.
“This work has been hindered by the unhelpful release of documents which misrepresent Pride’s position by individuals no longer involved.
“In particular a draft statement has been published online, although this was never released by Pride and confuses the present situation.
“While the charity believes in transparency with all stakeholders, including the community, it is necessary to maintain a level of confidentiality when negotiating with suppliers and other partners.
“Work continues this week and details will be published once meetings have been completed.”
Pride (South East) chairman Russell Allen had released a statement on 3 February saying a rejected VAT claim “dramatically” damaged finances.
A subsequent statement, which the trustees now claim was only a draft, confirmed the charity would “cease trading”, following advice from “accountants, solicitors and insolvency practioners [sic]“.
“The Park event has made a loss over a number of years. In 2011 with the park fenced and ticketed, much greater costs were involved in putting on the event.”
The statement goes on to apologise to creditors and the LGBT community and hopes that “another group will take up the mantle of organising Pride, hopefully for 2012, but if not certainly for 2013″.
PinkNews.co.uk has been unable to reach the organisers. Pride (South East)’s outgoing voicemail message says it is in the process of moving offices.
A spokesperson for Brighton and Hove Council told PinkNews.co.uk: “Pride is an important event for the city – not only for residents and visitors but also our economy. While Pride is not a council run event, we work closely with the police, the fire brigade, residents and local businesses to ensure this event is successful and safe.
“The changes that were made last year, in particular the fencing and ticketing and the different arrangements around the clean up, were in response to the calls from the police and fire brigade as well as our communities and residents.
“We understand Pride South East is in a difficult position financially which is extremely regrettable but it’s for the trustees to make their decision on a course of action. We are committed to continuing to work with the community and our partners to ensure the city continues to celebrate its unique equality and diversity through Pride.
“In the meantime we are talking to interested parties and will listen to proposals. It takes six months to get all the necessary permissions in place beginning with landlords consent on 6th March.”
Caroline Lucas, leader of the Green Party and MP for Brighton Pavilion told Gaydar Radio: “If the reports of Pride’s financial difficulties are accurate, then it is very worrying. Pride is a hugely important event in Brighton & Hove’s calendar, both for the city and the whole country. It offers a vital opportunity to celebrate LGBT lives and to celebrate diversity. I hope very much it will go ahead this year.”