ORGANISERS fear that a popular community event that has been running for more than 50 years might not go ahead this year due to council cuts.

George Irvine, chair of Gourock Garden Party, says he doesn't know whether the committee will receive the grant they need to run it.

Even if they do, it might not arrive in time, with the committee in limbo about financial support just weeks before the event is due to be held.

Mr Irvine told the Telegraph:"The problem is we don't know if we will have funding in time for the garden party in June.

"According to what I've heard the council won't be paying grants out until July.

"We usually get a grant - we got £5,000 last year but the council is slashing them all and we don't know whether we'll get a grant or not."

Mr Irvine says he is concerned that time is running out to get this year's event finalised.

He said: "We cannot make any firm plans.

"I have been told I haven't missed any grant applications and that the council will get back to us.

"But we have to pay for things up front - we hire 250 tables, 150 chairs and stalls.

"It costs £1,200 for stalls alone, then there is advertising and insurance.

"We've been told the council has to make a decision based on the austerity cuts."

Another option for the group is 'reducing' the event if nothing has been decided by the end of this month.

Mr Irvine says the garden party has been running for more than 50 years and has never been called off.

He said: "It's always went ahead, we've never called it off in advance, only if on the day it's heavy rain and the park has been waterlogged."

The get-together in the walled garden in Gourock Park is traditionally held on Father's Day, which this year falls on Sunday June 16.

Mr Irvine said: "It's the longest running community event in Inverclyde.

"If it wasn't to run this year it would be the end of an era.

"It is the one event that attracts people of all ages, a family day out.

"If it didn't go ahead, it would be bad for Gourock and the whole of Inverclyde.

"It all depends if we get a grant and, if so, how much it will be.

"It is in the hands of the Gods in the marble corridors of power.

"I'm in limbo."

Mr Irvine says a lot of people have already asked him if they can book a stall and many organisation depend on the garden party to raise funds.

He said: "For a lot of organisations who take a stall that is their main fundraising event for the year.

"It's got wider implications."

A spokesman for Inverclyde Council said: “Between 2015/16 and 2016/17 the council was able to set a three year budget and under this budget the Gourock Garden Party received a regular grant.

"In 2017/18 voluntary organisations who had benefited from the three year budget, including the Gourock Garden Party, automatically received a further one year extension to their funding.

"These payments were usually made during April/May.

“Last year all voluntary organisations, including the Gourock Garden Party, had to make a new application for their grants.

"It’s the same this year.

"There is no automatic entitlement.

"The usual procedure with grants to voluntary organisations is for the window for applications to open in April and to close in May.

"A committee meeting is then usually held in June to decide which organisations will get a grant.

"Payments are sent out almost immediately after the committee’s decision.

"Last year they were issued in July and the Gourock Garden Party received its grant after its event.

“We do not have a date yet for the committee meeting but we don’t expect the process to be radically different this year.

"Once the date for the committee meeting has been set we will be able to decide when the window for applications will be.

“The council will publicise when the window for applications opens."