Dave Rylatt, Chair of Wellington Carnival Committee, has challenged the claims of out-of-area street pedlars that they contribute part of their takings to support the event. Rylatt says organisers receive nothing from these visiting traders. Andy Carter from Wiltshire is reported in the Somerset County Gazette as arguing that merchandise sellers contribute to Carnival Committees’ revenue by paying for permits and that they are “happy to contribute.”
In his response Dave Rylatt said, “An estimated £10,000 of LED toys and balloons are sold at Wellington Carnival each year. The public wrongly think that by purchasing these toys from ‘pedlars’ they are contributing to Carnival funds. They are not. In the 5 years I have been organising Wellington Carnival, we have not received a penny from these people.
“The law that these ‘pedlars’ try to hide behind dates back to the 1800’s and was designed to allow legitimate pedlars to sell their wares town to town. The law was not designed to encourage transit vans full of pedlars to descend on Somerset towns from as far away as Nottingham, Liverpool and Manchester. 14 Somerset towns are campaigning to get this antiquated law changed. But this will be a time-consuming effort, as there are more important things on the government agenda (such as BREXIT).
“Members of the public can of course choose who they buy their goods from. If they buy from pedlars all the money goes to them; if they buy from their Carnival Committee all profits will be distributed throughout the community – their community! This is what Carnival is all about.
“All our official sellers are volunteers raising money for local charities and groups, our elderly, less advantaged, the sick and children – just to mention a few of the good causes we help.
“People may ask why we have left it until now to take on this blight of Somerset Carnivals. The reason is simple: until now, we have not had enough resources. We have to concentrate on marshalling, judging, catering and putting on a safe event.
“Carnival used to survive from public donations but this has dwindled year by year and we are now forced to look elsewhere for revenue – revenue that stays in Wellington.
“All Wellington Schools will be helping us with our initiative this year in selling LED toys before Carnival takes place. All Wellington schools will receive a donation for helping us. Our schools should be extremely proud that they were part of the successful trial of this initiative last year – and 14 Somerset towns are now following suit.
“As organisers, we also have to satisfy multi-agency organisations that we have adequate health and safety provision in place. These pedlars show complete disregard of marshals, organisers, the public and, most importantly, the participants of carnival. All organisers of Carnival concur that these people are a risk to our event, weaving in and out of 100ft floats and compromising safety.
“Organisers are also exasperated by confrontations with members of the public who have purchased inferior goods. They think it is the responsibility of organisers to replace them. Our initiative is fairly simple: we intend to sell superior quality merchandise at a much reduced price.”
Dave Rylatt concluded by saying, “Support your local carnival, or lose it; it is your choice.”
Wellington Carnival is on Saturday 30 September.