GRANTHAM Carnival could go ahead without its parade, the heart of the event, for the first time in 26 years.
Organisers of the hugely popular June event approached the Journal this week at the end of their tether after Lincolnshire County Council highways rejected every single parade route proposal.
The committee, led by chairman Roy Wright, has been working on the application for the past nine months - and now with less than three months to go their final application, complete with changes demanded by highways, has been met with a flat “no” and no explanation as to why.
Carnival chairman Roy Wright said: “Within four hours they had turned it down by phone. We’re trying to find out why but they won’t tell us.
“As it stands right now, there will be no parade.”
Despite smooth runnings over the past 25 years, the parade is no longer allowed to travel the traditional route from Station Road East to Wyndham Park, taking in St Peter’s Hill, High Street, Watergate, Brook Street, Manthorpe Road and Belton Lane. This is because highways will not allow any interference with ‘A’ roads - in this case the A52 and A607.
In previous years, Lincolnshire Police officers have stopped traffic but they are no longer allowed to do so and instead a traffic management company must be employed to carry out full road closures. The carnival committee has employed the services of TMS at a cost of over £2,000.
Carnival committee secretary Sharon Evans said: “It’s not just the money but the time and effort that’s gone into this in the last nine months.
“I can’t even put into words how I feel because you couldn’t print it.”
Last year, floats were forced to travel along Avenue Road and into Sandon Road - a “waste of time” according to Roy as there was not a soul lining the route. He fears that even if they can get highways to agree to a route, it will be an “out-of-sight parade” unless they can get the go-ahead now and work on raising awareness.
As a Grantham man born and bred, Roy says he feels let down.
He added: “I’m 73 and for 50 of those years I’ve more or less devoted my life to Grantham.
“For the last 26 years the carnival has been my life, and I know it means a lot to Grantham people.”
The Journal demanded answers from the head of the highways west Brian Thompson. He said he has not seen correspondance from Sharon following the route rejection, nor from Mayor of Grantham Mike Taylor who was incensed by the risk to the parade.
Mr Thompson added: “We haven’t agreed a final route but there is plenty of time to sort that out.
“We’re still trying to get a route that is safe and doesn’t bring Grantham to a standstill.”
Mr Thompson promised the Journal he would work with the carnival committee to agree a route, and would not enforce the deadline for road closure applications which has now passed.
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