THE organiser of Worcester’s first gay pride festival has been forced to cancel the event due to financial problems and a lack of local support.

One of the Worcester Pride organisers Lee Winters yesterday announced that the inaugural event, due to take place in September on Pitchcroft, was being scaled down and postponed until next year.

He cited the change of government, recession, withdrawal of funding and lack of support from statutory bodies as the reasons for the decision.

Mr Winters declined to name the statutory bodies, other than saying Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service had withdrawn £1,500 of funding and a promise of providing marshalls for the day.

Mr Winters said: “It isn’t easy with any event such as this being planned in the country and it hasn’t been plain sailing, but we have to be professional, so we aren’t going to be disrespectful to anybody.

“Worcester Pride is about engaging and building communities and engaging with statutory bodies. It’s a big learning curve. But it’s about building bridges, not smashing them down.”

In a statement, the organisers said it had become “more apparent” there was less support than expected from statutory organisations, and a “growing unwillingness to engage with the community and group”.

A spokesman for the fire brigade said: “Due to delays by the promoters of Worcester Pride in organising the event, and the recent significant pressures that public sector finances are now facing, it was felt important that events requiring direct funding were reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

“The review of the service’s financial support of Worcester Pride resulted in the withdrawal of financial support – but the offer of non-cost support remained in place.“ A spokesman for West Mercia Police said the force had only been notified by e-mail yesterday that it had been cancelled.

“Officers, along with other agencies, have worked with organisers to assist in their planning of the event as is the case with all large-scale events across South Worcestershire.”

Mr Winters said smaller events would instead be held in September at AiR Cafe Bar, Broad Street and the Brewery Tap, Lowesmoor, to celebrate the gay community. Co-manager of AiR Mark Satchell said it was a shame the event had been postponed.

Worcester City Council said yesterday that despite a number of meetings with organisers it had not yet received a licence application for the Pride event.