FLEETWOOD’S Tram Sunday event is set to enter a new era in which it can benefit the town’s good causes.
Organisers say the annual event, one of the biggest transport festivals in the North of England attracting up to 70,000 visitors, has been transformed by a generous sponsorship deal and efforts to run it on more of a business footing.
It means that in future years, cash raised from the event can be ploughed back into community causes, including local youth groups.
That has never been done before – but the Tram Sunday committee says that by running the event like a business, it can reap dividends for Fleetwood.
The event was reorganised two years ago with a new committee and has been backed by a generous sponsorship deal from Fleetwood auto sales firm, Chris Allen.
Although the sum has not been publicly disclosed, the cash deal has clearly made a significant difference to the event, covering the costs and returning a profit.
Derek Eaton, finance director of the festival, told the Weekly News: “Tram Sunday has always been a brilliant event and the organisers have always worked very hard.
“But the sponsorship deal has really helped turned things around.
“A popular event like this, drawing 60,000 people into Fleetwood, must be able to benefit the town.
“We are hoping to work with youth groups in which they can help us on the day, and we can assist them with financial help.
“We are looking to make it into a truly community event.”
Me Eaton added local businesses were now helping with small donations and money was also raised by taking a percentage of the money raised by a funfair on the day.
And he hailed the partnership between the committee, Fleetwood and Wyre Councils, Fleetwood Chamber of Trade and Blackpool Transport, which were all working closely together to ensure the event’s success.
Mr Eaton added that it was hoped the sponsorship deal with Chris Allen could continue next year as well.
The popular transport festival, which has been running since the 1980s, has traditionally been the town’s biggest draw of the year.
Chairman Robert Brown said: “I have had lots of feedback from the locals saying what a fantastic event it was and how proud they were to see it is back to how it was ten years ago.
“Police estimated that between 60,000 and 70,000 people came - it has put Fleetwood back on the map.”
Those visitors came from across the North West with some making the journey from much firther afield.
Mr Brown added: “We have had sponsorship from Chris Allen garages for the past two years which has been an enormous help. People don’t realise the costs involved for road closures and insurances, that’s before anything else.
“The sponsorship has done very well for us and there is always room for more.”