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Friday, 31 July 2015

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Shows could be banned from Rickerby Park in Carlisle

Shows and events could soon be banned from Rickerby Park if a deal goes ahead with Carlisle City Council.

Organisers of the popular Border City Steam Fair, which attracts thousands of visitors to the Carlisle park each year, say its future is now in jeopardy.

Meanwhile, councillors are concerned it could leave the city without an obvious venue for major future events.

The decision could also have an impact on other sites, such as Talkin Tarn, but not Bitts Park or Hammonds Pond.

The controversy emerged after the city council, which is responsible for the park, was offered a grant – a total of £228,000 over 10 years – by Defra to help with its upkeep.

But if it accepts the windfall – to protect agricultural land – there would be strict conditions on what the site could be used for during this period.

This includes banning vehicles from going on to the park land – making it impossible to hold events such as the annual steam fair on the site.

Organiser Graham Forster said they have been told to start looking for a new site. But he said there is nowhere else central and big enough for the growing fair, which also raises money for local charities.

“It’s going to affect us in a big way. We’ve been offered Bitts Park but it isn’t big enough. The only other option is to look for somewhere out of town, but we get thousands of people – a lot of families who live in Carlisle – who walk.

“That park was left to the people of Carlisle by the Rickerby family for their pleasure. Now they are going to sign it away for 10 years,” he said.

Councillors in the Stanwix area are also concerned about the pending decision and how it could affect the city’s potential to host any big event.

County councillor John Mallinson, also Conservative group leader on the city council, said: “I understand the council has a need to raise funding in any direction it can.

“My concern is not just for the steam fair. It’s a good event and very welcome, but there is a wider issue.

“Before the city council signs up to this it needs to think very carefully because we might be left in a position where we would be unable to host an event like the steam fair, the Cumberland Show if they wanted to move back there or something like the Radio 1 Big Weekend, for which Rickerby Park was considered.”

City councillor Paul Nedved added that there has been talk of hosting a big event at the Cenotaph – which is in Rickerby Park – in 2014, 100 years after the start of World War One. But he said even that would be in doubt if the deal is signed.

A Carlisle City Council spokeswoman stressed that no decision had been taken.

“The council has been offered a substantial grant from Defra. This would cover the ongoing maintenance of some of our parks, including Rickerby Park. The £200,000 grant would be over 10 years, but comes with some stipulations on the future use of these particular green spaces.

If accepted, the proposed grant would be a substantial new income stream for the council and we are giving it serious consideration.
“As part of this process, we have consulted with organisers of events, such as the steam fair, as one of the provisions of the grant is that events of this type could not be held on the parks covered by the grant. This is to protect the land from damage caused by the vehicles and infrastructure brought on to the land for the event.”

She said they have offered fair organisers Bitts Park and stressed that other high profile events – like the fireshow – would not be affected.
A decision is expected to be taken in the near future.

But Jacquelyne Geddes, a Stanwix city councillor, said it should not be made by officers or even the ruling executive.

“I personally feel that a decision of this scale should come before full council,” she said. “On one hand we shouldn’t be turning down grants but you have to balance it to ensure what we are going to get is of definite benefit. If you look at the terms and conditions there will be restrictions on all kinds of activities for 10 years.”

City and county councillor Liz Mallinson agreed. “I welcome the grant but I am concerned. I hope the council officers are looking at the implications of tying up the whole park for 10 years for what, over the years, is not a vast amount of money.”

The councillors are urging residents to let them know what they think of the plans.

Brampton resident Joe Czarnota is also worried about the impact on Talkin Tarn – though the council insists it would only be surrounding farmland affected by the conditions, not the main area.

What do you think of the plans? Visit www.cumberland
news.co.uk to have your say.

Have your say

Graham and Mel do a wonderful job at rickerby park and bring people from all walks of life to carlisle shopkeepers petrol stations hotels all benefit from their efforts not forgetting the charities as well weigh that against the proposed grant and it wont be to difficult to rule in favour of rickerby park steam rally

Posted by mick yuill on 14 January 2013 at 13:27

cant the steam rally not move to the Race Course.Leave the park the same as it is today

Posted by robert on 14 September 2012 at 15:42

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