A POLITICAL row has broken out over how a borough council should try to save an iconic music event which draws 25,000 fans each year.

Last month Colne Town Council announced the end of the legendary Great British Rhythm and Blues Festival in its current form citing a ‘lack of resources’.

The decision caused widespread shock and anger despite a promise to replace it with a summer music event for the town on the August Bank Holiday weekend with a £20,000 budget.

The festival, running for more than 30 years, was named the UK Blues Festival of the Year in 2019 before the pandemic stopped it in 2020 and this year.

At Thursday night’s full meeting of Pendle Council a bitter row broke out between the borough’s Conservative administration and the Labour opposition over how best to salvage it. In 2017 the town council took over the running of the loss making festival from Pendle Leisure Trust.

Labour backed a motion moved by Cllr David Whipp, leader of the Liberal Democrat group, calling for the borough council to pay the £9,000 cost of clearing up after the event and to underwrite any future financial deficit.

The ruling Conservative group tabled a resolution seeking to save the festival through setting up a charitable trust run by Pendle people and businesses.

Cllr Nadeem Ahmed, leader of Pendle Council said: “This would be an important first step in securing the long term future of the blues festival for years to come.

“Conservative-run Pendle Council demands to have control of their festival given back to them in the form of a charitable trust.

“Discussions can now begin with local people and businesses to establish this trust.”

Leader of the Labour Group Cllr Mohammed Iqbal said “It was evidently clear that the Tories were attempting to play politics with the people of Pendle by saying outside the chamber how they wanted to protect the festival but when it came to the crunch refused to underwrite the event instead putting forward a motion which will take months to implement putting into jeopardy the festival which has been running for 30 years.”

Waterside and Horsfield and Liberal Democrat Cllr Dorothy Lord said: “It is sad to see the Conservatives and Labour treating the festival as a political football rather than considering what is best for Colne and thousands of music fans.”