A large scale agricultural show in the Moorlands has been cancelled – just three weeks before it was set to take place. Last year’s Leek & District Show was cancelled due to the pandemic, but it had been hoped, with the further easing of restrictions by the Government, that this year’s show could go ahead at it’s regular venue of Birchall Playing Fields in Leek on Saturday, July 31.
A large scale agricultural show in the Moorlands has been cancelled – just three weeks before it was set to take place.
Last year’s Leek & District Show was cancelled due to the pandemic, but it had been hoped, with the further easing of restrictions by the Government, that this year’s show could go ahead at it’s regular venue of Birchall Playing Fields in Leek on Saturday, July 31.
However, the organisers of the agricultural extravaganza have stated that they were notified last week that Staffordshire Moorlands District Council (SMDC), which has remit over the public site, had informed the show’s volunteer committee that the show could not go ahead.
A spokesman for the show announced on Friday (July 9) via social media that the popular family event had been cancelled. They stated on the Leek Show Facebook page: “We have been informed by SMDC, the managers of the site, that owing to the current levels of Covid infections and changes to assembly restrictions, Birchall Playing fields will not be available for Leek Show on Saturday, July 31 as planned.
“Despite being well advanced in our plans for an event to celebrate the end of restrictions there is clearly insufficient time to arrange an alternative site, however proposals for a site at Logsdon will commence for the show to take place in July 2022 which we trust will be supported equally by the public and authorities.”
The show’s chairman, Eddie Sims, then posted the following on the show’s Facebook page on Sunday (July 11): “As Leek Show Committee Chairman, I would like to pay tribute to our committee members for all the hard work they have put in to make this year’s show the success we all hoped for in the very difficult circumstances we have all been experiencing over the last 18 months.
“Some of our committee are long-standing volunteers who have been involved in Leek Show for many, many years, and for that, we thank them for staying the course and bringing the experience and advice to the majority of us who are newcomers with varying degrees of knowledge and experience – but above all, enthusiasm beyond bounds. I would also like to mention the unstinting support from (MP) Karen Bradley throughout.
“As chairman of this organisation, I cannot begin to explain the disappointment I felt on receiving the email from SMDC refusing the license to operate the show from Birchall – home of the show for 54 years, even though I had understood from the Torr family that dealing with the local council, who are custodians of the site, was always the most challenging part of arranging the show each year.
“Whilst the committee feel it would be impossible to arrange a show for 2021 at an alternative site, with the added challenge of finding a suitable date that does not clash with other events in the area, they are determined to make the 2022 Show, on July 30, bigger and better than Leek has ever seen.
“The site that has been offered is on Leek Road between Endon and Longsdon, opposite Dunwood Lane, and is approximately 20 per cent larger than Birchall, carries no limitations, so attractions such as Show Jumping, could return to the show.
“Main attractions could be as daring as your imagination. Security would be much improved and parking for several thousand vehicles is adjacent to the site. Traffic management consultants have given assurances that minimal disruption to a busy main road is very achievable.”
Mr Sims added: “The Leader of the Moorland District Council has stated that the council would be very supportive of the move.
“There are ambitions to expand the show through most of the sections, in particular the Cattle, Sheep and Horse classes. More exposure to modern-day farming with a Farmer’s Market, an Artisan stall section, with Forestry and modern crop-growing methods and demonstrations, an involvement opportunity for the education sector, etc., plus classic and vintage vehicles and possibly even steam.
There are also many sponsorship and advertising opportunities available.
“All this needs volunteers to help run such an event, anyone who feels they may be able to contribute in any way either in planning or on the day, please get in touch.”
The Times & Echo contacted SMDC with regards to their decision not to allow the Leek Show to take place at Birchall Playing Fields this year.
In response, leader of SMDC, councillor Sybil Ralphs, said: “I want to be very clear that the council has not ‘cancelled’ Leek Show. We wrote to the organisers in May to say we would not be approving their application to hold the event at Birchall fields. At that time they indicated that they had identified an alternative location and I sent my best wishes to them for the future success of this event at its new venue.
“We have since confirmed for a second time that we would not grant permission for the show to be held on our land at Birchall and, despite that, they continued to sell tickets and invite interest in trade stalls.
“Given the recent Covid outbreak in Leek, the likelihood that an event of this scale would lead to further local transmissions, and the continuing increase in positive cases nationally, the risks of permitting the show to go ahead were too high and we had no option but to refuse permission.
“We have a duty to protect public health and it would be simply irresponsible to encourage people from across the Moorlands, and possibly the region, to travel and come together in this way when we’ve all worked so hard to contain the outbreak in Leek.”
Cllr Ralphs added: “Even if the public health situation were not the very obvious concern that it is, the application was only received by the council very recently and much of the necessary documentation required to provide the assurance that we and partners would need to be satisfied that the event was being operated safely was not included.
“As a responsible landowner, that is not a situation we can allow.”
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