'Dig deep' appeal to bring Cowley Road Carnival home

thisisoxfordshire: Carnival book-keeper and trustee Zaheer Qureshi with the business plan for next year's event Carnival book-keeper and trustee Zaheer Qureshi with the business plan for next year's event

COWLEY Road Carnival needs your help to come back to its spiritual home.

That was the message from organisers who last night urged Oxford residents to help raise £46,500 to bring the event back to Cowley Road.

It comes after it was warned next year’s event is the last chance to revive the carnival.

Organisers say the carnival will cost almost £140,000 to run, with more than £90,000 met with grants or income on the day itself.

Now traders, organisations and individuals are being encouraged to dig deep to find the rest of the cash.

Aziz Ur-Rahman, who owns Aziz restaurant in Cowley Road, said: “I think it is their last chance next year to get it back into Cowley Road and get it back on track.

“I, like lots of other people, have said that as long as it’s coming back to Cowley Road, I will be happy to support it with cash and in other ways.”

Carnival trustee and book-keeper Zaheer Qureshi, who is also treasurer of the Asian Cultural Association, said the event would be back, bigger and better than ever in 2013 as long as funds were raised.

He said: “We will be very happy if we can bring it back to Cowley Road – that’s what we really want to do. In the current climate when people are feeling down, this will lift their spirits.

“Obviously if we can’t raise the money, there’s not a lot we can do, but we have a lot of faith that we can, and that’s also why we have started so early.”

The committee expects to shell out more than £50,000 for security and operational support, and thousands will also be spent on hiring extra bins and fencing, marketing and other elements, like acts for the event and a project to help local schoolchildren make costumes for the procession.

But costs in 2013 will be lower than in previous years because the committee is planning to close a smaller section of the road, from Magdalen Road to Union Street.

The popular event, which launched in 2002, has not taken place in Cowley Road since 2010. It was cancelled this year and was based in South Park last year to save more than £10,000 in security costs.

Trustee Karen David said: “We’re at the height of our fundraising efforts at the moment. We really need people to step forward and say they will support us.”

She said organisers would be approaching businesses which had expressed an interest in supporting the event, and distributing literature about sponsorship packages.

Oxford city councillor Dick Wolff said: “If it does come back to Cowley Road it will be fantastic, that’s what people want. I think it was nice in the park, but most people remember it as a road event.”

Council spokesman Louisa Dean said: “The organisers of the Cowley Road carnival have presented their plans for next year to us and we wish them well with them.”

Oxford East MP Andrew Smith said: “It would be great to get the carnival back in Cowley Road itself.

“These are difficult times for many businesses, but if enough local firms – and individuals too – can give a bit of sponsorship, it will help the organisers put together a great community event.”

After the 2011 event, ex-Apprentice star and North Oxford resident Saira Khan was recruited by the committee to help raise cash. Ms David said they would be approaching her again.

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