A CELEBRATION of the Hindu festival Diwali to be held in Wimborne this Saturday November 17 will not be underwritten against losses by Wimborne Town Council.
Members agreed to give only a £100 grant to the event, which promises Indian dancing, stalls and educational workshops and events on the 'Festival of Light', the most well-known of Hindu festivals.
Moe Kocha of the Red Fort appealed to the town council for grant funding after one of the applications he had made failed, leaving a shortfall of £500 on the estimated costs of the event.
Funding has come in the form of £2500 from Wimborne BID, £1500 from EDDC and £500 from private sponsors towards the total £5000 cost.
He said he hoped to raise additional money through activities on the day and stall holders giving a percentage of their income, but that any proceeds were planned to go to the Friends of the Victoria Hospital in Wimborne and Wells for India.
Councillor David Packer said: "It would be a shame if this did not take place for the want of a few hundred pounds. Could we not underwrite the event up to that figure?"
But Councillor Robin Cook said: "It doesn't rest easy with me that we have to be very careful as a public body not to be seen to be supporting a business.
"If it were an independent organisation in the town it would be different, but I am concerned that we could get applications from other businesses. I feel we ought to make a contribution, but I am not comfortable with it."
Mr Kocha explained that he had put in 200 hours of his own time to organise the festival, involving schools and other organisations, and would actually be closing his restaurant for the day so that story telling activities could be hosted there.
Town clerk Lawrence Hewitt pointed out that East Dorset District Council must have been satisfied that the festival provided entertainment for the public.
Councillor Shane Bartlett said: "I think it is important and should take place."
But the vote showed members to be split down the middle on whether to underwrite, and decided, on the casting vote of the chairman John Burden, to give the grant only.