EASTBOURNE Pride organisers have apologised about overzealous restrictions and security at the gate.

It was a massive success last Saturday – despite the weather – but Betty Gallacher from BourneOut has issued a statement.

She said: “We want to address some of the complaints we have received about the overzealous restrictions, and security, at the gate.

“Primarily because of Covid-19, we were persuaded, by someone no longer associated at all with Eastbourne Pride to employ an event management company to organise the event.

“We had concerns about this right from the start. We did concede however, and employed this company in the end but it has been an extremely frustrating and unhappy experience for us throughout.

“And, that is without any consideration of the extraordinary amount of money that it cost us to do this.

“In the end, this year’s event cost us double the amount that it has in previous years, despite not having the parade to organise!

“We are fully aware that the security guards at the gate prevented anyone from bringing chairs, and umbrellas etc. onto the field, apparently because they were deemed either a risk to health and safety, or had the potential to be used as a weapon.

“It was particularly annoying for people being unable to enter with umbrellas, because obviously there were bouts of extremely heavy rain!

“In addition, we know that many people struggle to remain standing for long periods, whether or not they have a disability – we therefore regret that many people did not stay at the event as long as they might have, because of being unable to bring in their chairs.

“We also had a complaint from a lady on the day who brought her dog with her, and had her steel dog bowl confiscated, again because it was deemed to have the potential to be used as a weapon! There were further complaints from people who were bringing in bottles of water that they had already opened, and these had been confiscated – this apparently because of the risk that the bottles might contain alcohol.

“We would like to point out that we agree with you all that these sorts of restrictions were entirely excessive and, we did indeed speak to the event management company on the day but were told that if we did not comply with their restrictions, they would close the event down.

We clearly did not wish this threat to be carried out so had no choice but to allow them to continue with these actions.

“On another note, many people complained that they could not obtain wristbands for the event. We would like to point out that wristbands had been available since May.

“We were still receiving emails asking for wristbands in the early hours of the Saturday morning and also immediately before the gates opened to the field!

We were told that we were not allowed to hand out wristbands on the day. We publicise the event as much as we possibly can, but cannot be held responsible for people who leave things until the last minute – those people are likely to be disappointed.

“Others complained that we had not updated the website on the Friday to say that all the available wristbands had gone. Whilst we understand that it is important to ensure that information is up to date, we would like to remind everyone that, unlike many other Pride events, we do not have a single paid member of staff – the entire team is made up of volunteers who also have jobs; many of them full time.

“The volunteers work extraordinarily hard, and do as much as they possibly can because they want to support not just the LGBT+ community in Eastbourne, but also have a commitment to organising an event that welcomes the whole town. We pride ourselves on the fact that it is always attended by so many families and young children.

“The last couple of days leading up to the event are always extraordinarily busy for all of us trying to complete the final tasks before the day, so we don’t always get to doing things like updating the website. We apologise for this, but we do our best to get everything done – with the challenges of the pandemic, it has been far more difficult to cope with all the additional things that we have had to do!

“Finally, we would like to assure all our supporters, and this year’s attendees, that we will not be employing an event management company again, and that next year’s Eastbourne Pride will once again be organised by Betty and Mandy, who will apply common sense to these matters as we have done in the past.

“We would like to reiterate our sincere apologies to anyone who was upset by the actions of the security at the gate, and hope that this will not deter you from attending next year. We are determined that Eastbourne Pride 2022 will see the return of the parade, and will be bigger, better, and more fun than ever before – we really look forward to seeing you all there.”