Restaurateur likened to 'Victor Meldrew'

A RESTAURATEUR who tried to stop a main road from being temporarily closed for an annual village fair has been likened to "an upper crust Victor Meldrew".

A RESTAURATEUR who tried to stop a main road from being temporarily closed for an annual village fair has been likened to "an upper crust Victor Meldrew".

Long Melford county councillor Richard Kemp has taken a swipe at Sam Chalmers, owner of the village's prestigious Chimney's restaurant, whose actions threatened the popular village summer fair.

Mr Chalmers complained to Babergh District Council over plans to temporarily close Long Melford's Hall Street between the Bull Lane junction and St Catherine's Road to allow the fair, which attracts thousands of visitors, to take place.

The restaurant is regarded among the finest in the region and has attracted high profile guests such as the disgraced Tory peer Lord Archer.

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Mr Chalmers complained to the parish clerk claiming the closure of the road will affect his trade at the busiest time of the year and that the fair attracts the wrong type of people to the village.

Organisers of the fair said that if Mr Chalmers succeeded in preventing the road from being closed that whole event may have to be cancelled on safety grounds.

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Mr Kemp said: "We appreciate the prestige of Mr Chalmer's venue and we regret he is not in favour of the social mix of the people who attend the fair, but other business adapt to the situation and support the event and even make a profit.

"People in the village may view Mr Chalmer's misapprehensions are based on snobbery and conclude he is like an upper crust Victor Meldrew."

The parish council took over the running of the event six years ago, and it now replaces the Christmas fair.

Part of Hall Street is closed off for one evening a year to allow the fair to take place. Last year 3,000 people turned out for the event and an even bigger crowd is expected this year.

Highlights at this year's festival include craft and charity stalls, live bands, clown workshops, rodeo rides, a small fairground, morris dancers and competitions.

Parish clerk Linda Goodban said: "This is a totally non-profit making event and many local charities raise vital funds through their stalls. Mr Chalmers has objected to the road being closed but if it is not, we would probably have to cancel the event. We have so many people walking around it would not be safe to have the road open."

Babergh District Council spokesman said: "Babergh has received and approved a request from Long Melford Parish Council to close off a part of the local highway for their forthcoming Fair. We had received one telephoned complaint about the closure and have asked the Parish Council to later on consult with local businesses as to the impact, if any, of the fair on their trade."

Mr Chalmers was not available for comment yesterday.

The event will now take place on Saturday, July 12, between 6pm and 10pm. Stall pitches are available by ringing Linda Goodban on 01787 378084.

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