Beadnell Community Volunteers were preparing for a car boot sale over the August bank holiday weekend when they were told they did not have insurance cover.
The cancellation dismayed volunteers who had been hoping the event would raise thousands of pounds for community initiatives.
Several of those who had been busy baking cakes, scones and tea loaves for the big day attended last Wednesday night’s meeting of Beadnell Parish Council to find out what had happened.
Alison Nation, parish council chairman, said: “It was very unfortunate that this all came up very close to the car boot sale.
“We are in the third year of a three year contract with the same insurer. When a question was raised we took it up with the insurer and there was simply no way we could cover the activities and unfortunately it could not be extended as a one off.
“There has been no change to the policy, it’s the interpretation of it. The scope of the policy is very tight in that we have an ‘affordable’ premium and it doesn’t cover independent or separate voluntary organisations.”
Beadnell Community Volunteers was originally formed as a sub-group of the parish council in 2012. Since then it has organised 54 separate events and raised over £44,000.
Colin Brunt, chairman of Beadnell Community Volunteers, said: “In August, I was told there was an issue with liability insurance that the council arranges and that maybe the work the volunteers do would not be covered.
“On August 19 I was told it was no longer viable to assume that the parish council would cover our activities and that we would have to seek our own cover.
“It was going to cost in the region of £500 to insure our activities. I didn’t like the price and didn’t like what it implied because, on a bad day, £500 is the profit. I didn’t want to stand in a soggy field just to pay £500 to an insurance company.
“Without the ability to insure through the parish council or to get a reasonable insurance policy arranged very quickly I thought it prudent to cancel the car boot sale.
“I told the people involved, specifically the bakers, that it was probably wise to assume that this particular car boot sale was not going to go ahead.
“On August 23 we had another email where it was stated the parish council would like the activities of the volunteers to continue and were prepared to make a donation to cover insurance costs. We had a further meeting and it was agreed to get a bespoke policy for what we actually did.”
Beadnell Parish Council unanimously agreed to make a £500 donation to the volunteers.