LAUNCESTON'S Carols by Candlelight could be cancelled this year after red tape forced its organiser to step away from its lead role.
Riverside Lions Club has staged the event for 33 years but club president David Vautin said yesterday the organisation could no longer lead the event because of regulatory burdens increasing the cost and work involved.
He said occupational health and safety and risk-management requirements had crippled the event and the associated costs and paperwork had become too much for the club of almost 50 members.
Mr Vautin said up to 10 months was needed to organise the event, involving hundreds of volunteer hours.
He said the club would struggle to raise the $50,000 expected to be needed to stage the event this year, with many services previously donated or provided at cut price now charged at close to commercial rates.
``The regulatory, financial and manpower burden associated with delivering a successful Carols by Candlelight has outgrown the capacity of our club,'' Mr Vautin said.
``Months of work is required across our ageing membership to address an increasingly complex range of bureaucratic, safety, financial and organisational challenges.''
Mr Vautin said Riverside Lions would still like to support the event, but not direct it.
He said the Launceston City Council or another service group must step up and lead Carols by Candlelight.
But Launceston City Council general manager Robert Dobrzynski was reluctant to commit yet.
He said the council would work with other community groups to see if the event could continue.
``The loss of Carols by Candlelight would be a real blow to Launceston,'' Mr Dobrzynski said.
``We understand this is a major logistical event to operate, particularly with public liability insurance.''
Carols by Candlelight co-ordinator Phil Crowden said the event was almost cancelled last year before Vos Construction saved it with a sponsorship deal.
He said several club members had been involved in the event since it began in 1980.
``It was a tough decision to make as Carols has been close to the heart of our members who have been involved in all of its 33 years,'' Mr Crowden said.
The Riverside Lions Club has contributed more than $500,000 to The Examiner's Empty Stocking Appeal from event proceeds since it started Carols by Candlelight.