Gay festival hit by cash crisis

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The Independent Online
GAY PRIDE, the biggest gay and lesbian festival in Europe, has been postponed this year because of a cash shortage.

The organiser, Pride Events UK, is struggling to raise an extra pounds 25,000 deposit demanded by London's Lambeth Council. A pounds 20,000 fee for the Metropolitan Police for security at the festival and the march also needs to be paid.

Pride Events UK said: "The Pride '98 festival and march have been postponed. Pride Events UK is currently in negotiations with Lambeth Council and the police to reschedule."

The company now expects the event, originally scheduled for 4 July, to take place later, probably in August.

Pride Events UK said it had been posed severe financial difficulties by Lambeth's late decision to raise the deposit for the use of Clapham Common from pounds 50,000 to pounds 75,000.

The council became worried at the growing size of the event and insisted on a maximum capacity of 100,000 - less than half last year's attendance - forcing Pride Events UK to issue pounds 5 tickets for a festival which previously was free. That in turn led to the police charging for the first time for security at the event. So far only about a third of the tickets have been sold.

This is the first time that Pride Events UK has staged the festival, which first took place 27 years ago. The previous organiser went bust following last year's event.