MUSIC fans could be charged entry to the historically free Godiva Festival if they are not Coventry residents.
Proposals have been made to make festival-goers from outside the city pay to attend the three-day festival – putting an end to the event’s status as the UK’s biggest free festival.
But how much festival-goers could be charged is not yet known.
The proposal, part of Labour-controlled Coventry City Council’s budget revealed this week, comes after fierce criticism of the
council spending £610,000 on staging last August’s festival – more than four times its initial £150,000 budget.
It has not however prevented Labour finance cabinet member Coun John Mutton unveiling plans to increase funding for the event to £379,000.
The budget could be further increased through other measures including a parking charge at the War Memorial Park which the council hopes could raise £50,000.
And the council also plans to step up its branding and sponsorship efforts and introduce merchandise – in particular ‘Friend of Godiva Festival wristbands – which it hopes could raise a further £25,000.
But opposition Conservative leader Coun Gary Ridley has called on Labour to drop the proposed entry charge to the festival.
Coun Ridley said: “As we approach our year as City of Culture the Godiva Festival should play a big part in attracting visitors to the city however that’s now at risk.
“The Labour administration’s plan to charge people just because they’re not from Coventry is divisive and unfair.
“We’ve always welcomed visitors to the city of peace and reconciliation and they’ve made a huge contribution to our economy.
“However this plan punishes them at a time when we should be opening our doors to the world.
“My view is that the festival should remain free for everyone wherever they are from.”
Last year’s festival attracted some 115,000 people to watch acts including Ronan Keating, Jake Bugg, and Professor Green.
The festival was first held in 1997, since when the likes of the Boomtown Rats, the Stranglers, Buzzcocks, the Happy Mondays, the Human League have taken to the stage.
A decision on introducing the measures will be made at a full council meeting next Tuesday (February 19).
We have approached the council for comment.