Lancashire TelegraphBritannia Coconut Dancers forced to axe their traditional parade (From Lancashire Telegraph)

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Britannia Coconut Dancers forced to axe their traditional parade

Lancashire Telegraph: One of the Britannia Coconut Dancers One of the Britannia Coconut Dancers

BACUP’S famous Morris dancing troupe say they will be forced to axe their traditional Easter parade due to council red-tape.

Britannia Coconut Dancers’ treasurer Neville Earnshaw said he received the ‘shocking’ news at a meeting with police and county council chiefs.

The officials have safety concerns about the dancers and crowds using the roads and suggested the dancing be contained to the pavement, something organisers say is not viable.

Bacup councillor Jimmy Eaton said banning the march would be ‘barmy’.

The group - affectionately known as the Nutters - traces it origins back to 1857 and has held its Easter Boundary Dance parade for 110 years.

Mr Earnshaw said: “We are the envy of the folk-dancing world. We can dance in Dublin on St Patrick’s Day or Yorkshire but we can’t dance in our own town.”

Mr Earnshaw said he and secretary Joe Healey were shown photographs taken at this April’s event which showed spectators standing on the highway.

He said: “Myself and Joe walked into the meeting and noticed a lot of black and white photos on the table.

“The officers asked us how we thought it went and we said it was great. We raised more than £600 for charity.

“They said they had someone photographing the event - covertly - and that having members of the public on the highway was dangerous.

“The county council said the parade would not be sanctioned again in its current format.”

The boundary dance, which goes from Britannia through Bacup and Stacksteads to the border with Waterfoot, was almost cancelled this year after the group was asked to pay road closure fees of £1,000 for the first time.

Grants from Coun Eaton and Peter Steen, both county councillors at the time, ensured it went ahead and 10 police officers helped marshal the 800-strong crowd.

Mr Earnshaw said the county council’s demand for future dances to be held on the pavement rather than the road were ‘impossible’.

He added: “For us as a group to receive the blame or be deemed unsafe because of the actions of others is ridiculous.

“They said people were standing on the highway to take photos of us. If that’s the case, why didn’t the police officers deal with it? It beggars belief.

“It’s impossible for us to dance on the pavement. Can you imagine asking the bandsmen to read music, play and walk on a pavement?

“Our tradition is a huge source of income and pride for the people of this town and the people in charge don’t understand. They don’t want us on the highway at all.”

Coun Eaton, whose Greensclough ward the dancers pass through, said he had never known any serious trouble at the event.

He said: “I think there will be an uproar in the town if it doesn’t go ahead.

“Surely the Nutters can’t be responsible for everybody who is watching them? They’ve put Bacup and Rossendale on the map and it’s absolutely appalling what they’ve been told.”

The Nutters’ committee was due to meet last night (MONDAY) to discuss their formal response to the county council.

Oliver Starkey, the county council’s highways manager for Rossendale, said: “Officers from the county council, Rossendale Council and the police met with the dancers and highlighted some issues following this year’s event.

“The problems were explained to the dancers and we discussed how we would like to work with them to ensure a safe event for next Easter.”

The Nutters’ custom of blackened faces is believed to stem from dancers who had a pagan or medieval background disguising themselves from being recognised by evil spirits, or members’ historic connections with the mining industry.

Comments (22)

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6:22am Tue 19 Nov 13

AnthonyUK says...

No wonder this country is screwed with h&s guff!
No wonder this country is screwed with h&s guff! AnthonyUK
  • Score: 36

7:10am Tue 19 Nov 13

happycyclist says...

This is our tradition and culture they're destroying. Spineless police and county councillors.
To cite the size of the crowds for a peaceful community event is ridiculous -if more people get involved, then all the more reason for making it happen.

If the EDL wanted to march through Bacup, the police and councillors would find the money then, wouldn't they? Shameful decision by the police.
This is our tradition and culture they're destroying. Spineless police and county councillors. To cite the size of the crowds for a peaceful community event is ridiculous -if more people get involved, then all the more reason for making it happen. If the EDL wanted to march through Bacup, the police and councillors would find the money then, wouldn't they? Shameful decision by the police. happycyclist
  • Score: 58

8:23am Tue 19 Nov 13

You're not mugging me off that easily says...

happycyclist wrote:
This is our tradition and culture they're destroying. Spineless police and county councillors.
To cite the size of the crowds for a peaceful community event is ridiculous -if more people get involved, then all the more reason for making it happen.

If the EDL wanted to march through Bacup, the police and councillors would find the money then, wouldn't they? Shameful decision by the police.
With all the budget cuts and reductions in front line numbers don't you think the Police have enough to do with fewer resources without tying officers up babysitting this event ? Let's be realistic about it.
[quote][p][bold]happycyclist[/bold] wrote: This is our tradition and culture they're destroying. Spineless police and county councillors. To cite the size of the crowds for a peaceful community event is ridiculous -if more people get involved, then all the more reason for making it happen. If the EDL wanted to march through Bacup, the police and councillors would find the money then, wouldn't they? Shameful decision by the police.[/p][/quote]With all the budget cuts and reductions in front line numbers don't you think the Police have enough to do with fewer resources without tying officers up babysitting this event ? Let's be realistic about it. You're not mugging me off that easily
  • Score: -58

9:08am Tue 19 Nov 13

fuschia says...

The Coconutters are part of Bacups heritage.People come from all over to watch them dance at Easter bringing much needed trade into the town.If this was happening in other parts of the valley there would be no objections.I think we should all take to the streets in protest and show them what it's like to block the highway..
The Coconutters are part of Bacups heritage.People come from all over to watch them dance at Easter bringing much needed trade into the town.If this was happening in other parts of the valley there would be no objections.I think we should all take to the streets in protest and show them what it's like to block the highway.. fuschia
  • Score: 62

9:25am Tue 19 Nov 13

woolywords says...

I absolutely love these types of events and would be totally saddened to see them disappear through bureaucracy gone mad. Whether it be throwing black puddings or clog dancing, these quirky events both provide bemused onlookers with entertainment, while maintaining a community spirit to those whom know the why of it.
If all it requires is a mere thousand pounds or so to stage this event, why not put out collection boxes now or even get people to sponsor a Coconut? Am sure that many a local business, who benefit from this event, will chip in. Not to mention people like me, who would willingly pay something, just for the sheer entertainment value of the day out.
Why people cannot waive their fees for community occasions like this or councils provide funds to keep alive such a local tradition, when the pleasure that they bring far outweighs any problems caused, takes some understanding, to an outsider.
I truly wish you well for the future and hope that some way can be found to hold the event.
I absolutely love these types of events and would be totally saddened to see them disappear through bureaucracy gone mad. Whether it be throwing black puddings or clog dancing, these quirky events both provide bemused onlookers with entertainment, while maintaining a community spirit to those whom know the why of it. If all it requires is a mere thousand pounds or so to stage this event, why not put out collection boxes now or even get people to sponsor a Coconut? Am sure that many a local business, who benefit from this event, will chip in. Not to mention people like me, who would willingly pay something, just for the sheer entertainment value of the day out. Why people cannot waive their fees for community occasions like this or councils provide funds to keep alive such a local tradition, when the pleasure that they bring far outweighs any problems caused, takes some understanding, to an outsider. I truly wish you well for the future and hope that some way can be found to hold the event. woolywords
  • Score: 42

10:41am Tue 19 Nov 13

GAC says...

they should just do it anyways and ignore both rbc and lcc as both of these organisations dont seem interested unless there's money in it for them.
they should just do it anyways and ignore both rbc and lcc as both of these organisations dont seem interested unless there's money in it for them. GAC
  • Score: 47

11:41am Tue 19 Nov 13

Loving lances says...

If the previous Conservative councils (Rossendale and lancashire County) had banned the event, then our local councillors such as Jackie Oakes would be very vocal and jumping up and down in a furious rage. But since those councils are now Labour controlled, well, b;low me down... the papers have notr reported a singhle word from these local represenattives. Not that I am a fan of the Nutters, I think that are a bunch of barmpots whose motives are highly suspicious, but if it keeps local Bacup folk happy then fair enough. At the same time, the pavements in Bacup and Styacksteads are narrow at some points, so let there be a collection (perhaps £1 per person|) and then see how really popular the nutters are. Or not??
If the previous Conservative councils (Rossendale and lancashire County) had banned the event, then our local councillors such as Jackie Oakes would be very vocal and jumping up and down in a furious rage. But since those councils are now Labour controlled, well, b;low me down... the papers have notr reported a singhle word from these local represenattives. Not that I am a fan of the Nutters, I think that are a bunch of barmpots whose motives are highly suspicious, but if it keeps local Bacup folk happy then fair enough. At the same time, the pavements in Bacup and Styacksteads are narrow at some points, so let there be a collection (perhaps £1 per person|) and then see how really popular the nutters are. Or not?? Loving lances
  • Score: -8

12:02pm Tue 19 Nov 13

blackburnwithdarwen says...

Absolutely ridiculous!

Long held traditions such as these need keeping intact. All efforts should be forefront by councillors to support the community who pay them extremely well in the hope they do so. Looking after the communities needs and in this case it’s traditions. The English ways of life are slipping away fast into history. People are allowed to play with fireworks which may cause fires and Santa is still allowed to ride tax free on our roads without being ticketed for loitering. Eating everything in sight, if he feels the need to do so. These traditions need all the help that is available to continue as they have done for well over a hundred years!

Again, absolutely ridiculous decisions made by those who are supposed to be looking after us!

Long live the 'Nutters'. There's enough of them in politics who do far more damage and nobody stops them do they!
Absolutely ridiculous! Long held traditions such as these need keeping intact. All efforts should be forefront by councillors to support the community who pay them extremely well in the hope they do so. Looking after the communities needs and in this case it’s traditions. The English ways of life are slipping away fast into history. People are allowed to play with fireworks which may cause fires and Santa is still allowed to ride tax free on our roads without being ticketed for loitering. Eating everything in sight, if he feels the need to do so. These traditions need all the help that is available to continue as they have done for well over a hundred years! Again, absolutely ridiculous decisions made by those who are supposed to be looking after us! Long live the 'Nutters'. There's enough of them in politics who do far more damage and nobody stops them do they! blackburnwithdarwen
  • Score: 32

12:34pm Tue 19 Nov 13

Ewood1 says...

The human brain named itself, just think about that.....
The human brain named itself, just think about that..... Ewood1
  • Score: 4

12:37pm Tue 19 Nov 13

Rishtonian says...

fuschia wrote:
The Coconutters are part of Bacups heritage.People come from all over to watch them dance at Easter bringing much needed trade into the town.If this was happening in other parts of the valley there would be no objections.I think we should all take to the streets in protest and show them what it's like to block the highway..
WELL SAID
[quote][p][bold]fuschia[/bold] wrote: The Coconutters are part of Bacups heritage.People come from all over to watch them dance at Easter bringing much needed trade into the town.If this was happening in other parts of the valley there would be no objections.I think we should all take to the streets in protest and show them what it's like to block the highway..[/p][/quote]WELL SAID Rishtonian
  • Score: 25

2:42pm Tue 19 Nov 13

her from here says...

Did the powers that be say how many people had been injured or killed in the 150 years while the Nutters have danced through the town, Does the Council and Police not think it makes them look ridicules with all the problems Rossendale they have to pick on a group of Dancers that have the support of the local community.
Did the powers that be say how many people had been injured or killed in the 150 years while the Nutters have danced through the town, Does the Council and Police not think it makes them look ridicules with all the problems Rossendale they have to pick on a group of Dancers that have the support of the local community. her from here
  • Score: 29

4:10pm Tue 19 Nov 13

Stand_and_stare says...

I agree with the majority of posters here. This is just cynical and typical of a cash stretched council with no idea of what is important to the history and culture of the area. I for one would volunteer to be a street marshall rather than see this tradition destroyed for the sake of alleged health and safety issues; I'm sure others would do the same.
I agree with the majority of posters here. This is just cynical and typical of a cash stretched council with no idea of what is important to the history and culture of the area. I for one would volunteer to be a street marshall rather than see this tradition destroyed for the sake of alleged health and safety issues; I'm sure others would do the same. Stand_and_stare
  • Score: 25

4:46pm Tue 19 Nov 13

smcclo says...

When there is a need for cuts in local government instead of reducing services they should be putting Oliver Starkey, the county council’s highways manager for Rossendale at the top of the list as he is clearly not fulfilling any useful function
When there is a need for cuts in local government instead of reducing services they should be putting Oliver Starkey, the county council’s highways manager for Rossendale at the top of the list as he is clearly not fulfilling any useful function smcclo
  • Score: 22

5:55pm Tue 19 Nov 13

vicn1956 says...

They should have people in hi-viz jackets on every street corner checking people have coats on in this cold weather.
They should have people in hi-viz jackets on every street corner checking people have coats on in this cold weather. vicn1956
  • Score: 20

8:09am Wed 20 Nov 13

AnthonyUK says...

I hate killjoys and spoilsports that jump on traditions that have gone on every year and without incident then some nambypamby curtails restricts or bans it because of something that's never ever happened in the history of it. LCC and Rossendale Borough Council need their heads looking at and told where to jump!
I hate killjoys and spoilsports that jump on traditions that have gone on every year and without incident then some nambypamby curtails restricts or bans it because of something that's never ever happened in the history of it. LCC and Rossendale Borough Council need their heads looking at and told where to jump! AnthonyUK
  • Score: 9

8:09am Wed 20 Nov 13

A Darener says...

Surely there are enough public spirited policemen and council employees willing to forgo a few hours and pay to help police the event, thereby making it possible to raise much needed funds for charity.
Surely there are enough public spirited policemen and council employees willing to forgo a few hours and pay to help police the event, thereby making it possible to raise much needed funds for charity. A Darener
  • Score: 5

2:47pm Wed 20 Nov 13

thelincolnshirepoacher says...

People of Bacup and surrounding area rise up against this stupid bureaucracy and don't let this happen as before long nothing will be sacred in Lancashire, and we may as well turn the light off on our county.
People of Bacup and surrounding area rise up against this stupid bureaucracy and don't let this happen as before long nothing will be sacred in Lancashire, and we may as well turn the light off on our county. thelincolnshirepoacher
  • Score: 8

7:09pm Wed 20 Nov 13

shirtbox2003 says...

the nutters should if not already register as a charity and then put collection boxes in pubs,shops ,supermarkets all over the valley and beyond to help pay these imbicile councils.even if the nutters did have racial undertones then they will find it hard to upset anyone in bacup of all places,so come on councillors lets stop playing baby house.rock on nutters.
the nutters should if not already register as a charity and then put collection boxes in pubs,shops ,supermarkets all over the valley and beyond to help pay these imbicile councils.even if the nutters did have racial undertones then they will find it hard to upset anyone in bacup of all places,so come on councillors lets stop playing baby house.rock on nutters. shirtbox2003
  • Score: 3

7:15pm Wed 20 Nov 13

pwitch says...

Can we lobby the MP about this please?
Can we lobby the MP about this please? pwitch
  • Score: 2

10:04pm Wed 20 Nov 13

Unhappycyclist says...

I'm amazed at the narrowsightedness of this council requirement.

If there is a problem with pedestrians walking or standing in a road, let them send their covert cameramen to any football match, the roads are full of people.

Get a grip!

I'm not talking out of hand here, I've been a "collector" for the Nutters in the 90's, and helped count out the charity money raised on the Sunday morning in Beaconsfield Con Club. Best of luck to them.
I'm amazed at the narrowsightedness of this council requirement. If there is a problem with pedestrians walking or standing in a road, let them send their covert cameramen to any football match, the roads are full of people. Get a grip! I'm not talking out of hand here, I've been a "collector" for the Nutters in the 90's, and helped count out the charity money raised on the Sunday morning in Beaconsfield Con Club. Best of luck to them. Unhappycyclist
  • Score: 6

11:23pm Thu 21 Nov 13

happydancer says...

IANAL*, but surely "health and safety" regulations refer to the workplace, i.e. as in the "Health and Safety at Work Act 1974"? I get the impression that the HSE isn't really happy about the bad rap that H&S gets because people cite it as an excuse:

http://www.hse.gov.u
k/press/record/2013/
easter-parade280213.
htm
http://www.hse.gov.u
k/voluntary/index.ht
m

Now given that the dancers aren't actually employed to go out dancing, then they are not technically in a place of work, so surely the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 doesn't actually apply? Of course, I could be wrong, but one would need a lawyer to confirm that.

Also, this has kind of become political. Perhaps someone should organise a protest march against local government bureacracy and its effect on indigenous culture, which would, say, involve a certain group of dancers following a particular route. I'd suggest Easter as a good time to hold it. I mean, we still have a right to political protest, don't we? ;-)

(*I Am Not A Lawyer, in case you hadn't come across that one before)
IANAL*, but surely "health and safety" regulations refer to the workplace, i.e. as in the "Health and Safety at Work Act 1974"? I get the impression that the HSE isn't really happy about the bad rap that H&S gets because people cite it as an excuse: http://www.hse.gov.u k/press/record/2013/ easter-parade280213. htm http://www.hse.gov.u k/voluntary/index.ht m Now given that the dancers aren't actually employed to go out dancing, then they are not technically in a place of work, so surely the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 doesn't actually apply? Of course, I could be wrong, but one would need a lawyer to confirm that. Also, this has kind of become political. Perhaps someone should organise a protest march against local government bureacracy and its effect on indigenous culture, which would, say, involve a certain group of dancers following a particular route. I'd suggest Easter as a good time to hold it. I mean, we still have a right to political protest, don't we? ;-) (*I Am Not A Lawyer, in case you hadn't come across that one before) happydancer
  • Score: 3

9:34pm Fri 22 Nov 13

vanlad says...

What a load of codswallop, the Nutters are what people come from miles around to see and film, totally out of order. If we are talking danger on the road the council should explain why there isn't any white lines on Rochdale road near the firestation, and why the footpath leading into Bacup centre from the firestation are a health hazard due to over hanging trees and rotting leaves..
What a load of codswallop, the Nutters are what people come from miles around to see and film, totally out of order. If we are talking danger on the road the council should explain why there isn't any white lines on Rochdale road near the firestation, and why the footpath leading into Bacup centre from the firestation are a health hazard due to over hanging trees and rotting leaves.. vanlad
  • Score: 3

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