THE New Milton Pedal Car Grand Prix has reached the finish line after escalating costs drove its fundraising group to closure.
The New Milton Jubilee Fund launched in 2002 to organise local events to mark the Queen’s Golden Jubilee and, led by chairman Robin Ede, it has over the years been involved in several in the town’s calendar.
In 2005 the group introduced the pedal car races in New Milton after discovering the organisers of the event in Ringwood would be holding theirs every other year and they had alternated ever since.
But, addressing Monday’s town council meeting, Mr Ede said the event had become too expensive to run, having this year cost “a smidgeon under £10,000”. This meant that there was only a comparatively small amount of funds left to hand over to the local youth groups it was in aid of.
As a result, he announced the decision had been made to dissolve the New Milton Jubilee Fund at the end of the year and thanked councillors for their support over the years.
Mr Ede told the A&T July’s pedal car grand prix in the town centre had cost about £4,000 more to organise than the last one in 2017.
“We covered our expenses and had some money left over, but not as much as we would have liked it to be because not so many people turned up this year,” he explained, partly attributing the smaller crowd to a clash with the British Formula One Grand Prix international grand prix event Formula One, and the Wimbledon men’s singles final.
“If we’d had bad weather this year, we would have lost money.
“There are lots of expenses involved. We have to cover medical things, including having an ambulance crew on standby, and we even have to pay for security cover.”
Other local groups had been invited to take over the running of the New Milton Pedal Car Grand Prix, Mr Ede continued, but they had declined.
He put this down to the fact that the town has several other popular major events that take place every year which require time and money to organise.
“With the pedal car race, you’ve got to find the manpower to run it and there needs to be the will of the people to want to do something about it as well as checking that it is still going to attract plenty of people,” he said.
“You’ve only really got a three-week slot in which to run a pedal car race because there are so many other activities in the town to compete with. You can’t run it in December or September or October – it’s got to be more or less at the end of the school year when the window of opportunity arises.”
In addition to the race, the jubilee fund has run a new car show on the recreation ground every July in conjunction with the classic car show held by the Three Counties Vintage and Classic Car Club at the same time and place.
This year eight vehicle distributors took part, and they contributed around £3,000 towards the cost of the pedal car grand prix.
Other events included a successful charity quiz at Bashley Village Hall in September last year which, Mr Ede said, raised about as much as this year’s pedal car race cost.
“We’ve decided to draw a line with so many other activities taking place, but I’m very pleased to have been chairman of the New Milton Jubilee fund over the last 17 years,” he continued.
“My main feeling is that we’ve created many situations when the younger generation has set their mobile phones aside and conversed and mingled with their seniors.
“I like to think we have provided a calm, warm atmosphere of bonhomie in the community and I think we put New Milton on the map in certain people’s thoughts as well as raising funds for local youth projects.
“So I thank those who have supported us in the past and also our committee for their organisational ability, but regretfully the hard facts are it has now just reached in our committee’s view – an unviable venture in its present form to continue.”
As part of the dissolving process the group is holding a special presentation evening at New Milton IncuHive in Compton Road on Monday 2nd December.
This will see its reserve funds handed over, along with the sum raised by this year’s pedal car race, to its yet-to-be-revealed chosen youth charities.
James Marley, chairman of the organising committee of the Ringwood Pedal Car Grand Prix, told the A&T that the cancellation of the New Milton event would not affect theirs.
He said: “Obviously we are sad to hear they are stopping but we are already building up to our race next year which we are hoping to make bigger and better than ever. We would welcome anyone who was involved at New Milton, either helping out or in a team, to come and join us at Ringwood.”
Mr Marley added that at present they had no plans to change the frequency of their race, which first launched in 1987.
For more information go to www.britishpedalcargrandprix.org.