Carnival procession axed after 20 years

IT has been an annual feature in the Godmanchester calendar for decades. But now bureaucracy and health and safety fears mean that this year s Godmanchester carnival parade has been scrapped. Hundreds of spectators turned out to watch the procession last

IT has been an annual feature in the Godmanchester calendar for decades.

But now bureaucracy and health and safety fears mean that this year's Godmanchester carnival parade has been scrapped.

Hundreds of spectators turned out to watch the procession last year, which featured floats designed by the town's nurseries, schools and community groups.

But members of Godmanchester Community Association who organise the carnival have told The Hunts Post they must cancel this year's parade - set for Saturday, July 5 - after being unable to secure traffic arrangements in time.


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A full gala day and picnic in the park will still go ahead but without a carnival parade.

They said that for about 20 years, the police had stopped the traffic to allow the parade to pass.

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But a few weeks ago it emerged that the police would not be providing a lead car to stop traffic and instead roads would have to be shut and marshals provided.

Carnival organisers say it is now too late and too costly to apply for road closures.

A statement from the carnival committee said: "At a meeting, Inspector Sue Taylor, the Huntingdon Sector Inspector, said police would no longer be able to offer the support they have in the past few years. This has included walking with the parade, using their lead vehicle and officers to stop the traffic at each junction, coning London Road and The Causeway and generally lending a "presence of authority".

"They told us that if we wanted the roads closed, we would need to speak to the County Council Highways Department. Road closures take time to organise, cost money to do, and we felt that this was overkill for the scale of the event."

Cambridgeshire Constabulary have said they would not be able to lead the carnival procession after new guidance about the way police resources are used. They said organisers should have spoken to police and highways officers earlier so that traffic management procedures could be put in place.

Chief Inspector Laura Hunt said: "If the organiser of an event considers that the safest approach is to close the road then he or she must contact the relevant highway authority giving a minimum of twenty-eight days' notice. The police do not have the power to close roads, except in the case of an emergency."

After hearing the news that the police would not be leading the parade, DHL withdrew its offer of the use of its vehicles as floats.

Godmanchester Community Association member, Charlotte Oldwood said: "The police have said we can decorate a car and use it to the lead the floats but the highways officials said we would be responsible if anyone is injured and we can't risk that. I'm not blaming the police as they have been as supportive as they can within these new constraints. We hope we can hold a parade again next year."

The cancelling of the procession has angered members of the community.

Jo MacKenzie, manager of Clarence House Day Nursery in Godmanchester, said: "It's absolutely appalling that a police force that has supported us for more than 20 years has pulled out. The children are absolutely devastated."

Alan Hooker, treasurer of the Godmanchester Community Association, said: "I am shocked and disgusted. There is never a clearer opportunity for the police to generate goodwill in the community than at these occasions."

"The many groups who have been planning and preparing their lorry decorations and fancy dress for the procession will have their expectations dashed.

"At least our Gala Day will still go ahead, but for how long?

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