Disabled children's street party axed by council over safety concerns
COUNCIL officials have been branded party-poopers for halting an approved street party to mark The Queen's Diamond Jubilee.
Scores of disabled children and residents had to pack up their flags, tables and chairs soon after the start of their jubilee party in Newmarket Street, off Freeman Street, Grimsby.
It was organised by staff at Foresight, the charity which supports disabled people and their families. To celebrate the royal event and recall the opening of the venue by Princess Anne in 2008, they set out tables laden with food and decorated the street.
Nearby residents from Tivoli Gardens were also invited to join in the celebrations, which had been approved by North East Lincolnshire Council, in the run-up to the celebrations.
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Volunteers began hanging bunting from 7.30am yesterday. But North East Lincolnshire Council officials attended at 11am – soon after the party started – following complaints from nearby businesses about access to the closed road.
They saw only three black chairs and a sandwich board being used as a barrier to mark the road closure and declared it insufficient.
East Marsh councillor Jon-Paul Howarth demanded an apology from officials.
He said: "It is absolutely disgusting. The officers and the people who complained should come and see these children's faces and the people who are disabled.
"They have looked forward to this event and the officers came along and killed it off.
"It is disgusting they have listened to a couple of business people because they can't park their cars rather than the voices of these children.
"Why are their voices louder than ours?"
Safeguarding officer at Foresight, Carole Howard, said: "These children have special needs. We had permission.
"We were offered barriers to block the road but that would have cost us £50."
However, the council has now offered to provide proper barriers if the party is rearranged.
Jason Longhurst, head of development at North East Lincolnshire Council, said: "We recognise the importance of street events to the local community, and the fun and enjoyment that they bring to many; but this is not to lose sight of the duty that the council has to ensure that adequate safety measures are in place.
"In this case we will continue to offer help and support to the party's organisers. And in view of the nature of the event and the potential disappointment of a cancellation, we have offered to provide to the party's organisers the necessary cones and signs so that safety requirements are satisfied.''