URGENT talks are taking place to ensure controversial road closure measures will not skewer Barnoldswick’s St George’s Day celebrations.
Promoters fear they will be left with a hefty bill if they are forced to employ a professional traffic management company to close off key roads for the April 26 event.
Lancashire Police has already signalled a strong reluctance to marshall fetes and parades – a move roundly criticised by county councillors.
But Coun David Whipp fears if a commercial contractor needs to be drafted in, to enforce the closure of the likes of Frank Street, Ellis Street and Albert Road, the St George’s Day event could be placed in jeopardy.
Coun Whipp said: “For over a decade, I’ve been involved with events in Barnoldswick town centre where we’ve closed off the streets around the town square.
“This has been done for scores of different events and is a well-oiled procedure.
“Having to employ commercial traffic management companies will kill off events through the crippling costs.
“It would cost more to close the road than the entire budget for St George’s Day.”
The councillor also successfully called for a review of the county council’s own provisions when the matter was debated in Preston last February.
Coun Whipp added: “We need to slay the dragon of these road closure conditions once and for all.”
Oliver Starkey, the county council’s highways manager for Pendle, said: “In the past, this parade has been managed by Pendle Borough Council and Lancashire Police.
“The police provided support for stewarding events like this and Pendle Borough Council closed the road under the Town (Police Clauses) Act of 1847.
“However, the police are no longer able to provide stewarding for this type of event. Consequently, the organisers are responsible for providing traffic management.
“We've advised Pendle Council about the requirements for managing traffic safely at the parade and understand they are now in discussions with the promoters about this issue.”
Peter Atkinson, Pendle Council’s engineering manager, added: “We understand Coun Whipp’s concerns and are working with the county council and the police to try and resolve the situation.”