SHOCKED Crewe Carnival organisers say the show must go on after police refused to staff the event for free.

Cheshire Constabulary says it wants £7,000 to provide security at the August Bank Holiday event after drunken revellers clashed at last year's carnival and on Bonfire Night.

The fee will be on top of the £20,000 Crewe and Nantwich Borough Council pays to stage the event - plus an extra £3,300 needed this year for stewards to help enforce an alcohol ban.

But organisers at the council say the carnival provides a huge boost to the borough economy and the police fee, although unexpected, will have to be paid.

Activities portfolio holder, Cllr Howard Curran, said: 'It would be unthinkable to consider pulling the plug on the carnival.

'It's the largest free entertainment event in South Cheshire which also provides local charities with a platform to raise funds.

'Preparations for this year's event are at an advanced stage and, although this problem has hit us at the last minute, we have to go on.

'We are disappointed the police have asked us to pay when they traditionally cover the carnival for free, but the problems last year and particularly on Bonfire Night make it under-standable.'

Booze-related violence led to 14 arrests last August and families looked on in horror when a 50-strong drunken mob attacked police on Bonfire Night in Queen's Park, with six officers hurt.

Inspector Paul Jennings, responsible for crime and dis-order policing in the Crewe Division, said: 'We have traditionally policed events such as the Crewe Carnival for no extra cost, but there has been a recent move throughout the county to make charges for these special events.

'We have to be seen to be using our resources in the most efficient way possible and it makes financial sense to re-coup some of the cost by charging event organisers. Because the carnival route uses public roads officers have to be stationed to control the traffic.

'However, we hope that the ban on alcohol will make our job a lot easier this year.'

Last year more than 50,000 people flooded into Crewe to enjoy the colourful carnival parade and attractions on Queen's Park.

Volunteers from the Red Cross and St John Ambulance care for crowds.

The request for additional funding to cover policing will be made to council chiefs when they meet on July 15. Do you agree with the police bill? We welcome your views.

You can write to us at 2 High Street, Crewe CW2 7BY, fax us on 01270 256760, or e-mail us at: