Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 23 July 2014

Solved: mystery of Vital festival funds

After weeks of mystery over the whereabouts of funds raised for charity at this summer’s Tennent’s Vital festival in Bangor, a local church has confirmed it was responsible for the collection.



The Community Telegraph had repeatedly drawn a blank as it tried to find out where the proceeds from the Park and Walk Scheme had gone.

People parking in the Bloomfield and Valentines car parks were charged £5 per car and Ballygrainey Presbyterian Church has now confirmed that it raised over £4,000 for charity through the donations.

The same church administered the park and walk car parks at the Snow Patrol gig last year and raised £5,000 for charity.

When the Community Telegraph tried to find out where the money from this year’s parking had gone, North Down Borough Council insisted that it had nothing to do with it and that the promoter, MCD, was responsible, which MCD denied.

Ballygrainey minister Reverend Graeme Kennedy said: “The amount raised was £4748 and the money will be distributed as follows: 50 % of the money will go to support the Livingstonia Synod AIDS Programme in Malawi. The remaining 50% will be divided between a small local church in the village of Blejoi in Romania, a locally based charity called Asterias which is working in healthcare and education in Kenya and an agency called People International, doing Christian development and mission work in Central Asia.

“Details of the money raised and how it was distributed will be published in our congregation’s annual statement at the end of the year.”

He said the church was grateful for the opportunity to raise these funds and thanked everyone who contributed. “We understand that some people are confused as to how the church was given this responsibility but the issue of the process by which this opportunity came to us is one to be taken up with the council and the promoters,” he added.

Local man Alan Robinson, who contacted the Community Telegraph about the park and walk scheme said he was “disgusted” that the scheme had taken place again, that the money had gone to the very same church and that the council had denied having anything to do with it.

“I contacted the CT because I wondered where the money had gone from the Snow Patrol gig, and how you could be considered for future charity work.

“North Down Borough Council said that if they were going to have to go through a tendering process they wouldn’t go ahead with it again. I’m disgusted that it has taken place again and has gone to the same church.

“I’d like to know if the work done to the sites — putting the boards down to protect the pitches and the labour involved — was paid for by North Down ratepayers, because if it was surely some of the money raised should have been returned to them.”

North Down councillors Austen Lennon, Peter Martin, Gordon Dunne, and Alan Chambers have all vowed to raise the matter in council in the interests of ‘transparency’.

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