Leicester’s Diwali festival under threat as council can’t afford the costs – Times of India

LONDON: Leicester’s Diwali celebrations — considered to be the largest outside India — could get cancelled as the city council which funds them can no longer afford the massive costs.
The two-day event, which consists of a spectacular switch-on of 6,000 LED lights shaped as diyas, on the Golden Mile and stage performances, fair rides and fireworks two weeks before Diwali, and then another event, including live music and a lantern procession on Diwali Day, costs Leicester city council £250,000 (Rs 2.6 crore).
Leicester mayor Sir Peter Soulsby now says the £250,000 price tag is “unsustainable”. This has triggered Conservative Leicester East candidate Shivani Raja and former MP Keith Vaz to start petitions to the council calling for the celebrations, which attract over 40,000 people and benefit local businesses, to be saved.
A city council spokesperson said: “We recently met with members of the Leicester Hindu Festival Council and local ward councillors to advise them that funding for all of the council’s festivals and events is under review, owing to huge pressures on the council’s finances. Having announced last Sep that funding two events for Diwali was no longer sustainable, we’re now reviewing whether we can support even one event – which would cost £130k — without significant funding from elsewhere. It’s important to emphasise that no decisions have yet been made, but we wanted to be open with our partners while there’s still time to explore possible sources of alternative funding.”
Labour candidate for Leicester East Rajesh Agrawal said the issue was getting raised on the doorsteps during canvassing.“The council is under huge financial pressure,” he said, “and the future of these celebrations is uncertain. We need more sources of funding. Having been deputy mayor of London, I know how important such events are to promote a city. I am determined to save them.”

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