Village event axed due to red tape

COMMUNITY leaders have told of their dismay at the cancellation of a popular village event after villagers were faced with “unprecedented” red tape. The dedicated team behind the Woolpit Street Fair, near Bury St Edmunds, last night spoke of their sadness at the enforced decision - but vowed to do all they can to bring back the annual event.

COMMUNITY leaders have told of their dismay at the cancellation of a popular village event after villagers were faced with “unprecedented” red tape.

The dedicated team behind the Woolpit Street Fair, near Bury St Edmunds, last night spoke of their sadness at the enforced decision - but vowed to do all they can to bring back the annual event.

The fair, part of the village for almost 30 years, has always been a massive boost to local businesses and has raised more than £10,000 for village projects and good causes.

But organisers said this year they have been blighted by a number of problems, including the loss of 400 car parking spaces on the village sports field and rising public liability insurance.


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“Being hit with a number of expenses and regulations at the same time this year meant we were left with little alternative but to cancel this year's event but hopefully we will be back and in a stronger position,” said organiser Ken Sibley.

“Though it sounds very downbeat at the moment we are exploring all avenues to enable us to continue the event in the future.

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“Like the organisers of Glastonbury Festival, we are taking stock this year and looking at our options.

“Mid Suffolk District Council have been exceedingly helpful regarding any requirement for a premises licence and have come up with some suggestions regarding the future.”

A spokesman for Woolpit Parish Council said: “We are saddened that the increasing bureaucracy is killing village events, which have always been the mainstay of fundraising for groups.

“Not only have insurance premiums increased by unprecedented levels, all the issues of health and safety mean it is no longer worthwhile to organise anything.”

Traditionally held in May, the fair attracts thousands of families to the village to see Morris dancing, live entertainment and the colourful stalls.

Woolpit resident John Wiley said the loss of the fair was a blow to the village but he believed it would be back.

“It raises a lot of money which helps a lot of people including the local playgroup and it has helped put some of the youth in the village through university through bursaries,” he revealed.

“We will all lose out in the enjoyment this year and the boost it gives local businesses - I hope it will be back next year.”

Bury St Edmunds MP David Ruffley said: “Events such as the Woolpit Street Fair have long been the backbone of village fund raising but an outrageous level of bureaucracy has developed which is making such events less and less viable.

“I am convinced the Woolpit street fair committee explored every possible avenue before making this difficult decision.

“It is symptomatic of a society that is getting bogged down in more and more red tape; this is the sort of sad news we are going to hear more of across Suffolk.”

A spokesman for Mid Suffolk District Council said: “The council has discussed the options with the organisers and have offered to be an early advisor on next year's event.”

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