WEST End firms are being asked to put their hands in their pockets to help Glasgow's annual Mardi Gras.

It costs around £50,000 to stage the West End Festival parade, which involves closing Byres Road, setting up public toilets, implementing security and policing, as well as cleaning up later.

Now festival organ-isers want hundreds of businesses in Byres Road and the surr-ounding streets to contribute to the cost.

It is estimated that the event - which will take place on June 8 this year and is the centrepiece of the festival - gives the local economy a multi-million pound boost.

Around 80,000 people attended last year's parade.

Festival chairwoman Liz Scobie said: "It's easy to miss how much the festival contributes not just to the vitality and cohesion of the West End but its economy.

"In just a few hours, parade day generates well over £1million, with shops and restaurants enjoying their largest crowds of the year.

"Tighter crowd safety regulations have dramatically increased the cost of closing Byres Road and it seems fair that the local businesses which benefit forge a closer partnership with the community which pro-vides their customers.

"We are, therefore, asking that each business which partici-pates and benefits from the additional busi-ness makes a financial contribution to help offset the escalating costs of the road closure, licences, cleansing, security and health and safety activities."

In 2009 the route of the parade was moved away from Byres Road to Kelvingrove Park amid financial conc-erns, but it returned last year.

This year's festival is to take place from June 1-29.

Supported by Glasgow City Council and Creative Scotland, and now in its 19th season, the festival is run by volunteers and is to have more than 400 events.

The Byres Road Traders Association has backed organisers.

Association vice convener and proprie-tor of Booly Mardy's Mark Tracey said: "The return of the festival parade to Byres Road has been a significant development in the health of the West End.

"Business goes up overall during the festival, but the parade day sees record levels of takings across the board.

"We have pledged to work with WEF organisers to help fund the next three years of this important event."

A meeting hosted by the association to discuss how to make the parade sustainable will take place on April 29 at 6.30pm at the Hilton Grosvenor.

For details, call Mr Tracey on 0141 560 8004.

rachel.loxton@ eveningtimes.co.uk