“Hands off our balls”

Saranyah Sukumaran - News Reporter 18 February 2010

Cambridge City Council failings cause student concern

Cambridge City Council has lost hundreds of thousands of pounds in their preparation for the annual Cambridge Folk Festival, prompting worries from students about their competence to regulate May Balls.

The Council failed to recover a loss of £645,000 from a company contracted to sell tickets online. It has been revealed that the council was so concerned about criticisms over queuing for box-office tickets last year, that they ignored warnings over the reliability of the firm.

Phil Brook, a first year student at Girton, said:

“The Council should keep their hands off our balls – they can’t even keep their own events in order.”

SecureTicketUK was appointed by the council to sell tickets for the festival. The company broke the contractual commitment to repay the council, went into liquidation and the money has not been returned.

A report by six councillors stated that a ‘plan B’ of scrapping the deal should have been looked into. “There were issues with ineffective officer relationships and there was little regard to, or use of corporate control issues.” They described the arts and entertainments services as, “clearly dysfunctional.”

The Cambridge Folk Festival has a reputation for its intimate surroundings and quality music, with past acts including The Zutons, Noah & The Whale and Newton Faulkner, meaning that tickets always sell out quickly – hundreds queued for tickets last year as picture above illustrates.

In the report, the councillors said, “No one stood back and considered how important this issue was in the context of the whole organisation. A few days of queuing would have been unfortunate, as would the negative press that would have resulted. But this now seems little in comparison to the financial loss incurred and the damage to the reputation of the council.”

Saranyah Sukumaran – News Reporter