Brighton Pride was cancelled because Tory government failed to ‘step up to the plate’, Labour MP says

Brighton Pride

Brighton Pride was forced to cancel for the second year in a row because the government refused to offer an insurance backstop, the city’s MP has claimed.

Organisers cancelled the huge celebration on Wednesday (5 May), saying it was not yet possible for them to stage a large-scale event due to the ongoing pandemic.

The absence of “government-backed COVID insurance” made it too hard to predict what would happen to the event later this year, they added.

Lloyd Russell-Moyle, Labour Co-op MP for Brighton Kemptown, said it was “incredibly frustrating” as the event could have gone ahead with government support.

“As a loyal patron of Pride for more years than I care to remember this is very sad news,” he told PinkNews. “As the local member of parliament it’s incredibly frustrating news. I know how hard the organisers worked to get Pride 2021 off the ground. So it must be incredibly heartbreaking for them to have to postpone.

“What they needed was the government to step up to the plate and underwrite the insurance of these public interest companies. Pride couldn’t take the risk of going ahead only for the government to move the goalposts again at the last minute.”

For months the live events industry has been urging the government to underwrite COVID-19 related event cancelations, and the calls are only getting stronger with the absence of COVID-19 event cancellation insurance in the market, according to Business Insurance.

Russell-Moyle echoed their pleas, highlighting the challenges of planning and sustaining ticketed events amid the ongoing instability.

“All along our events industry have been begging for transparency so they can plan and the guarantee of support if the rug is pulled out from under them at the last minute. The government is giving them neither,” he said.

“Sadly I think the pretence everything is going to be fine by the government is going to quickly fade after Thursdays elections,” he added. “Once again my thoughts are with all those involved in Pride. I know it’s a very difficult day for you all but I look forward to dancing with you all in the park in 2022.”

In a statement Brighton Pride said it was “devastated” to cancel the event, which is one of the biggest Pride festivals in Europe, and acknowledged the “huge impact” it will have on local business, charities and community groups.

“Delivering Pride requires an all year-round planning cycle working closely with our partners agencies,” they said.

“While the vaccine rollout continues to be successful, the many uncertainties that need to be resolved to safely deliver mass gatherings and the complexities of organising multiple Pride events across our city are impossible to achieve in the time we have.”

A government spokesperson told PinkNews: “We have provided almost £2 billion to support the arts and culture sectors through the pandemic with Brighton Pride receiving over £900,000 from our unprecedented Culture Recovery Fund.

“Our Events Research Programme is looking at ways in which we can safely reopen venues across a range of sectors, considering the effectiveness of various measures to reduce transmission risk. These pilots are underway, and will inform decisions on the safe removal of social distancing from Step 4 of the roadmap.

“We are aware of the wider concerns about securing indemnity for live events and are exploring what further support we may provide.”