Red tape hits Lowestoft carnival plans
Mark BoggisFor more than 40 years, thousands of people have lined the streets around Lowestoft helping to raise vital funds for the town's hospital.But red tape has hit this Sunday's Lowestoft Carnival Parade, forcing organisers to shorten the route and now, for the first time in its history, the procession will not be able to cross the bascule bridge or finish at the town's hospital, which it raises money for.Mark Boggis
For more than 40 years, thousands of people have lined the streets around Lowestoft helping to raise vital funds for the town's hospital.
But red tape has hit this Sunday's Lowestoft Carnival Parade, forcing organisers to shorten the route and now, for the first time in its history, the procession will not be able to cross the bascule bridge or finish at the town's hospital, which it raises money for.
The Friends of Lowestoft Hospital organising committee were only informed of this decision by Highways Agency officials and police chiefs on Monday and so instead of finalising plans for the procession, the organisers have reluctantly devised a shorter route to save the parade.
Problems arose in the past month because the Lowestoft Carnival parade does not have a Temporary Traffic Regulation Order (TTRO) necessary to close a trunk road - an order which takes about 16 weeks to obtain. Organisers claim that they were only made aware of the need to have an order for the procession to take place on a trunk road a month ago - giving them insufficient time to apply for the licence.
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Carnival chairman Pat Rayner said: 'It would be an almost unthinkable decision to cancel the parade just because of red tape as to do so would have resulted in much disappointment and anger for hundreds of people.
'So we decided that the parade could assemble as normal in Kirkley Park Road and travel down London Road South and then end at Parade Road North near Notleys public house and disperse on Royal Green.'
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The committee claims that for more than the 40 years in which they have been involved in running the carnival, a road closure order has not been needed. However after applying for a temporary road closure for this year's event they soon ran into a legal minefield as the Highways Agency ruled that as well as having a Special Event road closure, a TTRO would be required for the parade to take place on the A12.
It is believed that these regulations have been in place since 1994, but have not been enforced in the past 15 years of the parade.
Admitting they were 'very unhappy' with the situation, carnival spokesman Mick Howes said: 'Despite meeting with the authorities earlier in the year we weren't told that we needed to obtain special permission to cross the bridge and use the roads classed as the A12 trunk route. We have successfully applied for, and been granted permission to close the other roads that the parade will use.'
However Sunday's parade will go ahead, but with a shorter route from Kirkley Park Road along London Road South ending just short of the bridge.
A Highways Agency spokesman said: 'During the past week we were in touch with the organisers of the carnival to inform them that if their parade route was to use a trunk road, such as the A12, they would need to submit a request for the appropriate Temporary Traffic Regulation Order (TTRO) under the correct Act and in the appropriate timeframe. 'We trust that this advice will help the carnival organisers to ensure that they can apply for a TTRO in the correct manner in time for next year's carnival parade.'
A Suffolk police spokesman said that officers have been working with the parade organisers to confirm the amended route, which will see the carnival finish on the Royal Green.
She said: 'Police became aware of the issue at the end of last week when, in discussion with the organisers about policing for the event, and running through a new risk assessment with them, it became apparent that no application had been made by the organisers to have the A12 closed at the bascule bridge.
'Police have no powers in law to stop traffic for a pre-planned event such as this and without a TTRO neither does anyone else.
'This wasn't Suffolk Police refusing to allow the road closure - it is just that if the carnival were to go ahead without the necessary legal backing, and something went wrong, then clearly the ramifications could be huge for the organisers, and officers clearly couldn't support an event which would effectively be doing something illegal.
'We are committed to policing the event and officers started discussion with the local authority and the organisers, suggesting that, as a one-off to ensure the carnival went ahead, it could be re-routed along the seafront to work around the issue.'