Birmingham & Black Country

Birmingham St Patrick's Day Parade 'will not be scaled back'

St Patricks Day parade (archive image - not 2015)
Image caption The St Patrick's Day Parade attracts thousands of people to Birmingham every year

Organisers of one of the biggest St Patrick's Day parades in the UK have said it will retain its quality despite council funding cuts.

Thousands of people were expected to attend the 19th annual event in Birmingham, the last one to benefit from £20,000 council funding.

Plans to axe financial support for major public events in the city were confirmed last month.

The £20,000 equates to about 30% of the £70,000 running costs.

'Fraction of cost'

And the situation is set to get worse in 2017, when the city council is also expected to withdraw logistical support previously offered free and valued at a further £6,000.

But festival committee head Anne Tighe said: "Obviously the council funding was nice but that was a fraction of what it cost.

"We are absolutely not looking at a smaller scale festival."

Image caption Some 80,000 people lined the route in 2014
Image caption There have been parades every year since 1996

Birmingham City Council announced plans to stop funding major public events as part of moves to cut £113m from its 2015/16 budget.

Pride and Vaisakhi are among the other council funded events affected.

Ms Tighe said they were looking at other fundraising streams for St Patrick's Day and planned to apply for additional grants to make up the shortfall.

She also said they would seek extra sponsorship and wanted to develop a scheme where businesses pay to be a friend of the festival.

"We also want the Irish community to put their hands in their pocket to support it," she said.

"If we want to go on we will need to build up a reserve fund so there's money in the bank if we are struggling."

Image caption Pubs traditionally join in the St Patrick's Day celebrations

The event on Sunday, themed the Irish Contribution to Birmingham, is expected to feature 20 floats.

Nine bands will take part in the parade and a stage in Bradford Street will house performances from six groups.

Father Pat Brown, who traditionally starts the St Patrick's Day celebrations in Birmingham with a mass at Anne's Church in Digbeth, said: "There is a strong Irish heritage in Birmingham and a strong sense of Irish culture. I don't think that will dwindle.

"The people here are proud of their Irish roots and want to maintain this tradition."

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