Leytonstone Festival organisers have called for the council to slash its own 'enormous budget' for cultural events after their funding application was refused. 

The community-led festival is scheduled to run over 170 events, including free concerts, art shows, and theatre performances until July 19, but is facing a £15,000 shortfall in its £25,000 budget after the council's decision.

This year, the arts development grant was described by Waltham Forest council as 'highly competitive and never guaranteed’, after receiving 27 applications requesting around £250,000 – 10 times more than the £25,000 available.

Waltham Forest council were criticised by the Taxpayers' Alliance for paying American pop group Sister Sledge £18,000 for their appearence at the Chingford Big Weekender 2014.

Diana Korchien, of Transition Leytonstone, who is helping organise the festival, called on the council to increase the arts development grant as it was “clearly dwarfed” by the quantity of applications.

She said: “Thanks to the government's financial disempowerment of local councils, cuts do need to be made, alas.

"In view of this, I would suggest that the council look again at their allocation of funding for cultural events, and agree to increase the arts development grant budget, while diminishing the enormous sums available for the council's own events programme.

“Council-initiated public extravaganzas have no need to be subjected to the same bidding process as community-initiated projects. Is this fair? It is time for them to engage in a bit of soul-searching."

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The launch of Leytonstone Festival on Saturday (Jeff Moore)

Shah Ahmed, chairman of Leytonstone Festival, added: “We had been in regular communication with the Director of Culture at Waltham Forest council Lorna Lee and had no advance warning that there was any problem.

“In an area like Leytonstone where many people are not the most wealthy we feel we provide a real service in allowing them to attend many cultural events for free in their own home area.

“The last two weeks have been extremely difficult.

“Without the incredible support of the artists and volunteers from the local community the 2015 Festival simply could not have gone ahead.

“We are concerned for the future and hope that their experiences will not have deterred people from getting involved in 2016."

The council had maintained they were providing financial support to Leytonstone Festival through its community ward forum fund, a figure believed to be in the region of £5,000.

But while Mr Ahmed admitted he was grateful to councillors for the support, he said: “It would be very disappointing if our popularity with the local community and residents’ attempts to get us extra money was being used to justify not continuing the central funding."

A petition has been set up by Transition Leytonstone to restore funding and 'honour' the memory of former councillor Vi Gostling who founded the festival and died last summer aged 97.