An annual visit of a fun fair to a Moorlands town has been cancelled due to the coronavirus situation. Locally known as the ‘Cheadle Wakes,’ the first weekend of September had set to see the annual visit of Warwicks Funfairs to the Tean Road Recreational Grounds in Cheadle.
An annual visit of a fun fair to a Moorlands town has been cancelled due to the coronavirus situation.
Locally known as the ‘Cheadle Wakes,’ the first weekend of September had set to see the annual visit of Warwicks Funfairs to the Tean Road Recreational Grounds in Cheadle.
However, Cheadle Town Council, which manages the public open space, has made the decision not to allow the visit to take place this year due to concerns over Covid-19.
The council held a virtual extraordinary meeting last week to discuss the fun fair operator Paul Warwick’s application to attend with his fun fair next month.
Prior to the meeting, councillors were sent copies of a risk assessment, incorporating the Government’s guidelines regarding hosting such events, which had been carried out by Warwicks Funfairs, along with other documentation showing the measures that Mr Warwick now operates with regarding Covid-19 including social distancing measures, use of face coverings, as well as hand sanitising stations.
In a statement issued after the online meeting, a spokesman for Cheadle Town Council said: “Cheadle Town Council recognise the special and lasting bond between the town and Warwick’s Funfair over many years, and of course we would love nothing more than to maintain this relationship for many years to come.
“Regrettably, this particular year has been profoundly disrupted by the Covid-19 virus and the ever-changing threat of re-emerging cases.
“As a town council we have to consider the importance of safety, and despite the comprehensive terms of compliance submitted with this application, we feel that the risk of holding this event outweighs the wellbeing of our community.
“We will look at the possibility of inviting Warwick’s Funfair to hold two events in 2021, to show our continued support for this event.”
Following the meeting, Cheadle councillor Gary Bentley, who did not attend the council meeting himself, contacted the Times & Echo with his thoughts on the decision.
He told us: “I think having the fair come to town would have been highly beneficial to the town, by increasing footfall and a small relief for the children before they are back in school.
“I think it would have been great for community spirit – obviously with Covid-19 measures in place.
“I understand the concerns but it can be done as Mr Warwick has already run two fairs in other towns.
“I see that Mr Warwick is a professional fun fair operator who operates adhering to Government guidelines.
“You also have to think about Alton Towers which is operating and have a big event in the Octoberfest coming up.”
Councillor Richard Alcock, who abstained to vote on the Cheadle Town Council decision, told the Times & Echo: “Yes I did abstain from voting but I did speak in favour of the fair coming to Cheadle.
“They have had it in Biddulph and there was no trouble at all.
“It’s been coming to Cheadle for years and years.
“They have Covid-19 measures and restrictions in place, they should be allowed to come.”
The Times & Echo contacted Paul Warwick at Warwicks Funfairs for comment on Cheadle Town Council’s decision. He said: “I am extremely disappointed and frustrated that we will not be coming to Cheadle this year.
“My family has been coming to Cheadle for five generations. The last time we missed the Cheadle Wakes was probably during the war.
“I’m 61 now and I’ve never missed a Cheadle Wakes.”
Since lockdown eased, Mr Warwick has operated his fun fair in Biddulph and also in Stafford town centre recently.
Mr Warwick said: “We are operating to all the Government guidelines and measures.
“We have conditions that visitors have to wear face coverings and we also temperature check everyone who comes on site.
“We are also offering a token system so that there is no handling of cash.
“We use a disinfectant called Zoono which has a 30 day life lifespan. We also work a one way system as well as social distancing. And every ride on site has a hand sanitizer station.
“We only want to operate in the safest circumstances.”
Mr Warwick added: “I am looking forward to returning to Cheadle as soon as it is possible.”
Although Staffordshire Moorlands District Council (SMDC) are currently not allowing any such events to take place on their land “as a result of Covid-19”, cllr Bentley, who is also a district councillor as well as a member of Cheadle Town Council, is hoping to be able to accommodate Warwicks Funfairs twice in 2021 with a second visit to one of the town’s car parks, which are managed by SMDC.
He said: “I am hoping that Warwicks Funfairs will be able to come twice to our town next year so that he can recoupsome of the losses he has made due to this Covid-19 situation. He is, of course, a local business based in the Staffordshire Moorlands.
“I am hoping that we can work with the district council to be able to accommodate Mr Warwick on one of our car parks – maybe the Asda one or maybe the town centre B&M one – early next year.
“I look forward to being able to make it happen in the not too distant future.”
Cheadle Town Mayor Ian Plant also spoke further to the Times & Echo about the council’s decision.
He said: “We have nothing against Warwick Funfairs – we always appreciate Paul coming to our town with his fun fair. We are just looking at the concerns from residents.
“Whatever goes on in other towns – we are looking out for the welfare of the people of Cheadle.
“With the children being out of school for the past six months and going back next week, we did not want to jeopardise them going back.
“It was with a heavy heart to vote on this but it’s been a bit of a ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t’ decision.
“We have aimed at making a decision which is in the best interests of everyone. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
“We know things are not going to be right for a while – looking ahead we have the Christmas Lights Switch On Event to think about, whether that goes ahead or not.”
Cllr Plant added: “We would welcome an application from Mr Warwick to bring his fun fair to Cheadle early next year.
“Everyone wants the fair to come but at the right time and in the right circumstances.”
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