Hastings' town crier quits in protest over proposed council 'cuts' to national contest
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The National Town Criers Championship is held every October during Hastings Week.
This year will be its 70th contest but the council is proposing to axe funding towards it, which equates to £2,000, as part of its budget proposals for 2023-24.
Jo Bartholomew resigned on Saturday (January 21), a role he held for 24 years.
He said: “I have greatly enjoyed my years of service and have forged great friendships with so many throughout this time. I truly wish that it had not come to this, however I hope you will understand that I simply cannot be the face of a council with whom I so strongly disagree.”
He branded the council’s proposals as ‘outrageous’. He said: “This effectively puts an end to another attraction to our town during Hastings Week.
“The Hastings National Championship is the oldest ongoing town crier competition in the world.
“Town criers from around the UK and Europe bid for a place in this competition. The council gives £2,000, the majority of which is used to pay for one night’s accommodation in Hastings for the visiting town criers. Most come from way up north and the West Country and some from Europe, like Belgium and Holland.
"I did a survey of all the criers who came to Hastings last year and all 15 of them spent an average of £150 each here, so that’s a lot of money they are putting into the coffers of the town.
"This competition is the FA Cup of the town criers’ world. It’s a family event and it’s also the 70th annual event this year. The heritage and prestige of the event is why people come. How short-sighted can the council be?”
A Hastings Borough Council spokesperson said: “These proposals are in draft form, and we are asking people for their views before the final budget is set. With ever reducing income, combined with increased costs, we will have to make difficult financial decisions around non-statutory services so that we have the funding to continue offering vital statutory services like housing and waste and recycling services.”