May Fair organiser wants the record set straight


The organiser of the Alderley Edge May Fair attended this week's Parish Council meeting to request that the record is set straight about how she has run the last two village events.

Christine Munro spoke during the public participation slot to say:

"It has come to my attention during the recent discussions we have had with the Parish Council that the Council apparently holds the view that I have been running the May Fair for personal profit.

"I want to make it clear that neither I nor any member of my family have ever benefitted financially from the May Fair. On the contrary we have subsidised it through our own time, money and effort.

"Cllr Williamson has even go so far as to say that: 'As far as I am concerned on the Parish Council this year's May Fair was basically a money-raising scheme for Christine and her family,'

"He also alleged that in the first year I spent £800-900 on computer equipment which was charged to the May Fair. I have never had this allegation made directly to me. I want to make it completely clear that I have never purchased any computer equipment and charged it to the May Fair, and our Treasurer has confirmed this. Whilst Councillor Williamson has acknowledged privately that he was wrong he has not done so publicly."

Cllr Mike Williamson responded "I do openly apologise for the confusion there was in regard to the computer equipment. That was a genuine mistake on my part but as far as everything else goes I'll respond to you formally and I'm quite happy to put that letter in the minutes."

Christine Munro added "Cllr Williamson has also claimed that we failed to provide proper accounts for the May Fair. This is also wholly untrue. All the minutes and accounts have been made available to participating organisations, some 50 in total, including the Parish Council. They are available on request to anyone else who would like a copy and we are happy to answer any questions they may have on them.

"The May Fair has never been a commercial event run for personal profit. All monies raised were dealt with by the Treasurer of Soroptimists in the first year and by the Treasurers of WIlmslow & District Lions Club in the second year. All monies received for the May Fair has always gone and continues to go into the May Fair bank account.

"Through various activities, especially the Farmer's Market, I have since 2005 raised over £33,000 for charities. I have always kept a very clear distinction between monies earned by my family business and those raised for charity."

"I am shocked at the behaviour of the Parish Council in relation to this matter. As a publicly accountable elected body, I now look to them to set the record straight."

Cllr Williamson added "First of all about the accounts, I know they're available. I know you sent last year's accounts to a couple of councillors and I saw accounts that were put in to the Alderley Edge Institute Trust because I'm a trustee from the first year when you were applying for money from the Institute Trust.

"The point we have always made, the thing we asked for at the Parish Council following the first May Fair, and what we've said subsequently said is, as this May Fair is supported by public money, you receive money from Cheshire East and you receive money from the Institute Trust, what we ask for is that you publicly publish your accounts. That's all we ask for, now you may think that you've done that, that's up to you but we don't think that you have so that's a difference of opinion.

"We will continue to answer your questions, if you have further questions, and we will continue to demonstrate our support for the May Fair in so far as we are able.

"In terms of whether its a commercial enterprise, or not, the point I made in your letter and people will be able to see when it's public is that the money that is made during the May Fair is not simply all money being put back into the May Fair account, the stall holders come in, they sell things, they provide services, make a profit and they leave - the one question I asked you when I gave you a reply, which we'll put in the minutes, is can the May Fair explain to the village and to the press what the public benefit is to the village from the May Fair."

Geoff Hall responded "We can demonstrate that very clearly."

Cllr Mary Maczkowiak said "There is obviously bad feeling here. I would like this to go away and I would like to work with the May Fair to try and get these misunderstandings and misconceptions because this is something I have always wanted for the village. I have always wanted the May Fair or Rose Queen brought back and initially approached Christine when I was chairman so I would like to volunteer to personally be involved."

Alderley Edge May Fair, Parish Council


Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not add your thoughts below.

Mike Dudley-Jones
Tuesday 13th November 2012 at 3:49 pm
Another piece of staggering AEPC public relations! Fostering a sense of community?
Geoff Hall
Tuesday 13th November 2012 at 5:50 pm
This is what I would say to answer Cllr Williamson’s question about the community value of the May Fair:

The May Fair provides an opportunity for villagers and visitors to enjoy themselves in a family event. It attracts people into the village. It benefits the traders who directly take part. It also benefits the other traders in the village who do not take part, but who nonetheless enjoy increased custom.

Unlike the Jubilee celebration organised by AEPC, the cost of the May Fair is borne only by the people who directly benefit from it: the traders and the public who attend. It is not funded by the taxpayer. (We see no reason why people who do not want to take part in the May Fair should be called on to pay for the enjoyment of those who do - and we’re a bit surprised that we have to explain that to a Conservative-run Council).

The money raised by the May Fair stays with the May Fair to fund the following year's event, but we hope in the future that it may be able to generate a surplus to fund charitable activities within the village. We haven't got that far yet, but we will.

A further difference between the May Fair and the Jubilee event is that the organisers do not enjoy the luxury of being able to go 20% over budget and just dip their hands deeper into the public purse to make up the excess.

The May Fair involves local schools, bands, gymnasts, charities, craftspeople, pet owners, and many others. We don't know exactly how many.

All of this is driven by a small team of volunteers who give up their own spare time to do it. Isn’t that what the Big Society is all supposed to be about?
Kirsteen Peel
Wednesday 14th November 2012 at 10:27 am
It would be lovely to see some positive information about AEPC - sadly it seems that they don't make it easy to find any to report...
Brian Etchells
Thursday 15th November 2012 at 8:27 pm
I was recently at a planning meeting concerning the May fair in 2013. The meeting was open to ALL members of the public. Those that were genuinely interested in helping attended. I do not remember seeing Mr. Keegan there or he would have been aware that the accounts for last years May Fair were there for all to see. At a public meeting!!!!!!!

Actually, I don't remember anyone being that interested in them. More interested in organising another fantastic fair and not leaving most of the organisation to Christine Munro.