Caterers face debts after collapse of festival organiser

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The collapse of a leading festival organiser has left caterers facing debts of thousands of pounds, with at least one company likely to be put out of business.

Galtres Festival Trading, the company behind the Galtres Parklands Festival at Duncombe Park in North Yorkshire, recently ceased trading, leaving caterers who worked at the four-day August festival unpaid.

The Nationwide Caterers Association (NCASS) today reacted to the news by urging members who worked at the festival to seek legal action.

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The incident has also led to scrutiny over the role of cashless pay systems, with NCASS urging members to boycott this method of payment at future events.

In a statement, NCASS said: “We are saddened and disappointed at the announcement that Galtres Festival Trading Ltd, has recently ceased trading and commenced issuing letters to creditors.

“The cashless payment system that was used at the festival has resulted in the traders at the event receiving no money whatsoever for three days work, they have lost stock, paid wages and received nothing back from the organisers.

“Early indications suggest at least one catering company will now go out of business while others will struggle with the thousands of pounds worth of debt they have had forced upon them.”

NCASS said it is advising all members that cashless payment systems are “too great a risk” and until a system for ringfencing this money is developed, caterers should not accept work under these conditions.

“The situation has affected a number of our members, many of whom are significantly out of pocket having worked the busiest weekend of the year,” it said.

NCASS is encouraging all traders which worked at last month’s festival to take legal advice and has set up a dedicated helpline for members.

“We hope that the festival will make the necessary arrangements to end the confusion and pay the traders the money that they earned through hard graft and in good faith,” the company said.

The annual festival is owned by the Galtres Festival Charitable Foundation. It said last week that the future of the festival was “bright”, despite trading difficulties experienced in recent years.

“Plans for a 2015 festival over the August bank holiday weekend are well-underway,” said event organiser James Houston. “It will be difficult to upstage this year’s event, which received rave reviews, but we’re going to try our best.”

Galtres Festival Charitable Foundation said that Galtres Festival Trading Ltd, the business that had ceased trading, was a “subsidiary operating company”.

“It’s been tough going in recent years to make this event pay for itself,” said Foundation Trustee Jane Johnson. “Successive years of bad weather haven’t helped. We’ve decided that the best thing for the future is to start anew, safeguarding revenues and focusing on improving the business model.

“We believe that the event potentially has a highly profitable future, provided a check is kept on costs, and sales continue to grow. The festival’s popularity is at an all-time high, and if we can capitalise on that popularity the event will have a bright and prosperous future.”

Johnson insisted the restructuring was not a means of not paying people.

“On the contrary it’s our firm intention to pay all suppliers in full at the earliest opportunity. It’s about safeguarding revenues. Our event has a hugely positive economic impact on the region, and we are determined to see that continue.”

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