Scouts’ anger at Parade bill

COMMUNITY leaders have told of their shock after it emerged the Scouts had been told to pay hundreds of pounds to parade through a market town on St George’s Day.

Some fear the annual St George’s Day parade in Bury St Edmunds – planned for April 25 – will have to be cancelled because of the unexpected �800 bill from St Edmundsbury Borough Council.

In previous years, Suffolk police has shut the road off on an informal basis. But last night the council said because of the expected numbers of Scouts and onlookers at this year’s parade, they had been advised by police that a formal road closure was necessary.

In a letter to St Edmundsbury’s former mayor Bob Cockle, Keith Barber, the Scouts’ district commissioner for Bury, said “the parade is now at risk of cancellation for financial reasons. This is a cost which we really cannot afford to meet. The St George’s Day Service and Parade attracts some 750 young people from both the Scouting and Guiding movements together with leaders, parents and supporters and is an event which Bury and the borough council should, and I’m sure is, proud to host.”

Mr Cockle, now deputy mayor, said he was shocked by the bill. “For the life in me I cannot understand this,” he said. “This parade has always started and finished in Cotton Lane and there’s not been any problems in the past.”

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He said if the council could pay thousands for private-sector consultants it could voluntarily waive the �800 fee.

“I am so keen that the parade should continue in Bury, not only for the honour of St George’s Day but for all the youngsters who look forward to this day. I think we should keep these traditions up.”

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A council spokeswoman said: “The police have informed us that they will no longer close the relevant roads informally as they have concerns about traffic, the scale of this parade and ages of those taking part.

“To comply with the relevant legislation concerning formal road closures we need people to deal with the signs and security barriers, formal advertising and so on, all of which has a cost to the council tax payer.

“We are currently consulting all the organisations involved in the parade to identify the costs and minimise them wherever possible.”

A police spokesman said: “Proportionate policing of this parade will be provided and local officers are working with the local authority and the Scouting Association ahead of St George’s Day.

“Concerns have been raised following serious traffic issues for this event in 2009 where vehicles encroached on the parade. Suffolk Constabulary does not have powers to formally close roads for such events and so has directed the organisers to the local authority.

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