Low turnout at Armed Forces Day raises questions about event support in Rotherham

ARMED Forces Day in Rotherham town centre attracted just 228 visitors – down from more than 10,000 in 2018, organisers have said.

Cllr Ian Jones, from Rotherham Military Community Veterans Centre, said RMBC should do more to support events given the Forge Island cinema project heralding the town centre’s “transition from a market town to an entertainment venue”.

He gave the example of the relatively poorly attended Armed Forces Day in June, saying: “In 2018, the same event without any council funding attracted over 10,000 people to the town centre yet this year’s event attracted just 228.

“If we are to deliver the town centre as an experience, shouldn’t we be looking at properly funding these kind of events and working with businesses like in 2018 to expand them, not just doing as much as required to tick a box.”

Cllr Denise Lelliott, cabinet member for jobs and the local economy, said she hoped Rotherham to be both an entertainment destination and a market town.

She said the council had spent £238,223 on the recent Uplift skate and arts festival and the Women of the World Festival.

The former had attracted 5,000 visitors, she added, with the latter seeing a 25 per cent increase in footfall in the town centre.

Cllr Lelliott said: “I’m proud that we continue to organise a successful Armed Forces Day celebration every year.

“Clearly, I can’t commit to spending more money on that than there is available, but it’s a valued part of our activity each year.”

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