A town council in County Durham has voted to axe thousands of pounds of funding to a well-established food festival.

Seaham Town Council is to withdraw all funding from Seaham Food Festival for 2024 following a November 2023 vote where seven members voted against five to axe the grant.

In previous years, the town council had provided up to £2,500 of funding to champion the event which in last year hosted MasterChef 2023 Champion Eddie Scott and Great British Bake Off 2022 winner Syabira Yusoff.

A spokesperson for Seaham Town Council said the food festival grant was withdrawn due to town and parish budget cuts from Durham County Council, who are the main organisers of the yearly event.

A Seaham Town Council spokesperson said: "Members felt that the town council had to spend less in some areas to accommodate the cuts in the town and parish grants from Durham County Council.

"They will reduce by 50 per cent over three years meaning for Seaham a loss of £29,891 this year, £59,782 in the second year and £89,673 in the third year."

Paul Darby, Durham County Council’s corporate director of resources confirmed the budget cuts, saying "difficult choices" have led to the lack of finance.

He said: "Due to significant government funding restrictions and unfunded pressures, over the last 13 years we have had to make over £250million in savings.

"Our Medium Term Financial Plan forecasts show we will face significant budget deficits over the coming four years, making it even more challenging to balance our budget.

"We have been put in an impossible position and have had to make some difficult choices. Regrettably, as part of these savings, this includes reducing the grant given to town and parish councils.


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"We will be doing this in a phased approach over the next three years, in line with the feedback received from the County Durham Association of Local Councils. We will still be providing town and parish councils with £1.25m of funding next year and remain one of the few councils left making these payments.

"Seaham Food Festival brings great economic benefit to the area, and we are committed to making sure that our popular event will go ahead within this reduced budget."

Trader applications are currently open for the 2024 edition of the festival, which will take place in the seaside town on August 3 and 4.