Tim Barford – Why we can’t continue in Bristol with VegfestUK currently…

23rd May 2017

Many of you will have heard the sad news that we are no longer continuing in Bristol with our outdoor vegan event.

We’ve run the event successfully in Bristol for 14 years and with considerable support from untold people – including the authorities. In particular, the event Police Liason Officer, the Fire Officer and the Noise Pollution Officer at Bristol City Council have been superb in many many respects, and Bristol is lucky to have such high calibre safety officers in the public events sector. But these last few months, it’s all change with the Council’s approach to outdoor events. Coupled with the obvious national increase in security and health and safety measures across the board, the council in Bristol have decided to make parks and outdoor spaces ‘cost-neutral’. This has a had a big impact. But it’s also been poorly managed, with a non-negotiable’ position adopted by the Council.

Vegfest has always been more interested in helping people go vegan than making money for itself and as such, we’ve only ever broken even once in 15 events in Bristol. But we’ve always managed to manage any deficit successfully and although in its history I’ve had to dig deep many times into my own pocket to absorb the costs, and indeed had to sell half my other business Yaoh back in 2010 just to keep afloat, I cannot work with a council that is going to increase its fees by 200% non-negotiable with 3 months notice before the event, alongside multiple other necessary increases to ensure safety is upheld and license conditions met. Our license application was also refused this year for the first time, 2 months before the event. We successfully overturned those decisions to allow the event to go ahead, but what’s going to happen next year? We have no idea, and as such, I can’t honestly take up to £100,000 upfront from small vegan business if the local council are going to move the goalposts anytime they wish and threaten the whole event.


We don’t have this issue in Brighton, or at Olympia. But we cannot continue with an outdoor event of this scale in Bristol without a degree of trust between the event and the venue and the authorities. And with some, that trust has gone.


I’d like to express a huge huge thankyou to all those who have supported this event over the years. It’s been emotional.

Xxx Tim Barford  May 23 2017


Related articles / videos

On Bristol Post – ‘We can’t trust Bristol City Council anymore’ – Why Vegfest is leaving Bristol after 15 years


Recording from Made in Bristol TV’s The Crunch Show on Monday May 22nd 2017 at around 7:30pm: