Country show venue change abandoned

By David GreenTHE organisers of one of East Anglia's biggest country shows have been forced into an embarrassing U-turn - only three weeks after announcing a change of venue.

By David Green

THE organisers of one of East Anglia's biggest country shows have been forced into an embarrassing U-turn - only three weeks after announcing a change of venue.

The Eye Show, which annually attracts up to 40,000 people, has been held at Dragon Hill on the outskirts of the town for the past 30 years.

But a plan to build a large poultry farming operation on part of the field used as the main car park resulted in organisers trying to find an alternative location.


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They announced earlier this month that the 2005 show, on the August Bank Holiday weekend, would be held three miles away on 70 acres of Thornham Park.

But a statement issued yesterday said complications had arisen at Thornham Park surrounding the new single farm payment - the agricultural subsidy scheme - and the proposed move had been put on hold.

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Tim Seeley, show director, said: “The trustees of the Thornham Settlement Estate are clearly in a difficult position, which I fully understand.

“The Eye Show will continue to negotiate with the estate to see if it is possible to stage the show at Thornham Park in 2006.”

In the meantime, the show will stay at its existing site and negotiations have succeeded to use other nearby fields for car parking this year.

Stephen Fletcher, of Bidwells, land agents for the Thornham Estate, said the trustees had only agreed to negotiate over the use of their land and added the show organisers had “jumped the gun” in announcing the change of venue.

“We gave only an amber light to the use of the park. The new farm payment scheme has very stringent regulations and we need to carefully consider the implications of land being used for such an event,” he said.

“We are still interested in hosting the show, but all the details have to be tied up first.”

Mr Fletcher added it was possible the parkland could be accepted into the new high level conservation scheme and trustees had to be sure that use of the land for the Eye Show would not compromise the bid.

The show is this year to include a country fair with demonstrations of activities such as gun dog training and archery.

david.green@eadt.co.uk

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