Town Christmas festival axed over social distancing fears

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Christmas Festival New Milton
The New Milton Christmas Festival is a popular event in the town’s calendar

DOUBTS over the policing of social distancing for major events as the coronavirus pandemic continues have led to the cancellation of the popular New Milton Christmas Festival.

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Organisers at the New Milton Town Partnership (NMTP) announced the “difficult decision” to call off this year’s festivities this week having consulted with councillors and referred to the current government guidelines.

Every year large crowds are drawn to the event, which covers the length of Station Road and part of Old Milton Road.

A host of song, dance and music acts entertain the public from a large stage in the centre of the high street, and a variety of stalls offer a selection of gifts and food and drink.

There has also usually been a large illuminated parade involving local residents and community groups.

But NMTP chairman John Evans said on Monday: “It is with much regret that the New Milton Town Partnership executive committee has decided to cancel the New Milton Christmas Festival 2020.

“To come to this difficult decision we have taken into account government guidelines, advice from our local councils, the lack of appropriate event liability insurance covering Covid-19, and the requirements of ‘policing’ social distancing, etc.”

New Milton Town Council’s finance and general purposes committee shared the group’s disappointment during its virtual meeting on Monday.

However, members agreed the £3,000 grant aid the committee had put towards the event should be returned and NMTP asked to re-apply for it in 2021.

Mr Evans added: “Hopefully everything will be back to some sort of normality by next year with the event being bigger and better.”

The partnership is now hoping it will still be able to press on with its next major event after the Christmas festival: the New Milton Town Show on Saturday 10th July 2021.

Due to take place on the recreation ground, this would feature a classic and new car exhibition, as well as stalls, entertainment and music.

New volunteers are being sought, and those interested in helping out at any future events are asked to contact Mr Evans by writing to him at 26 Grove Road, Barton BH25 7DJ, or by emailing nmtpevent@gmail.com

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