Confusion has arisen between North Down Borough Council (NDBC) and the promoters MCD over who was responsible for policing the park and walk facilities at this year’s Tennent’s Vital and where the funds have gone.
The concert ended over 20 days ago and yet no one from NDBC, or MCD can tell the Community Telegraph what charity the parking charges went to, how much money was raised for said charity, or what protocol was used to decide which charity received the parking funds.
On the Tennent’s Vital website it is stated that ‘park and walk’ facilities were provided for Tennent’s Vital at both the Bloomfield Road playing fields and the Upper Valentine playing fields.
The website states: “There will be a £5 parking charge per car at these sites. All funds will go to charity.”
NDBC say they have nothing to do with the car parking charges. “The staff in our Tourism Department are quite adamant that MCD handled the entire car parking arrangements for this year’s TV concert,” said a spokesperson.
But MCD insists that North Down Borough Council were responsible for the car parks, not the promoter, given the land being used was NDBC land.
The PSNI were also contacted regarding this issue, but a spokesperson said: “Because the money was gathered on private land, and not in the public arena, the organisers wouldn’t necessarily need to declare to us that they were collecting for charity.”
At last year’s Snow Patrol gig in Ward Park, motorists had to pay £5 to access parking at the council’s playing fields. On that occasion the funds went to Ballygrainey Boys Brigade who reportedly raised £5,000.
A council spokesperson said: “The boys collected for a charity appeal they were supporting during the year which I believe was related to overseas work, rather than for their own company.
“We understand they raised around £5,000.”
Ballygrainey Presbyterian Minister, Reverend Graeme Kennedy, said: “We approached the council to see if we could steward the car parks on Upper and Lower Valentines Playing Fields and the council agreed. I don’t believe we had to fill in any application to do this — it certainly wasn’t part of a tendering process.
“Ballygrainey BB did not steward Bloomfield Playing fields, I am unaware who did or how much money was raised there.”
Mr Kennedy added: “All I can say is we charged 1,000 cars on the Valentines playing fields and raised £5,000 for our church projects in Malawi, Africa.”
Earlier this year, the Community Telegraph asked NDBC’s spokesperson whether or not groups would be allowed to fundraise at this year’s gig and were told they would not, as the council did not want to pursue a formal tendering process.
Bangor man Alan Robinson has reacted angrily to the news that the council once again allowed its land to be used by one group without giving others the opportunity to tender.
“On a number of occasions my son’s football team has attempted to get money from the council but was refused,” he said.
“It beggars belief that one group could get free rein last year while this year no-one seems to know who got it.
“I’m sure there are lots of local groups who would have given their right arm to be presented with that sort of fundraising opportunity.”