Covid-19 fears halt VJ Day cel­e­bra­tion

Ormskirk Advertiser - - Active - BY JAMIE LOPEZ

THE or­gan­iser of a con­voy com­mem­o­rat­ing VJ Day was vis­ited by po­lice af­ter the event was can­celled at the 11th hour.

A fleet of 30 mil­i­tary ve­hi­cles as well as cars, vans and lor­ries from lo­cal busi­nesses had planned to tour through Tar­leton and Hes­keth Bank to mark the 75th an­niver­sary of the end of World War II on Satur­day.

But af­ter weeks of dis­cus­sions be­tween or­gan­iser Stephen Raby and lo­cal au­thor­i­ties, the event was can­celled by Lan­cashire County Coun­cil on Fri­day evening amid fears over the po­ten­tial spread of Covid-19.

Sim­i­lar con­voys were held along­side the weekly Clap for Car­ers events which ran through the height of the pan­demic and Mr Raby was left dis­ap­pointed when last week’s event was ruled un­safe.

He said: “It is very frus­trat­ing and it’s caused a lot of hurt, es­pe­cially for the care homes on the route.

“The sad thing is in our area, I think they’ve picked on the wrong peo­ple be­cause there’s lots of res­i­dents who have fam­ily who were in Burma, the for­got­ten war, and it’s caused a lot of hurt.”

Mr Raby had hoped the event would raise £5,000 for Queen­scourt Hospice through on­line do­na­tions and bucket col­lec­tions and said stew­ards were to be de­ployed in ad­her­ence to a sug­ges­tion from West Lan­cashire County Coun­cil.

But af­ter fur­ther dis­cus­sions, Lan­cashire County Coun­cil de­cided the event should not go ahead and told Mr Raby the news over the phone on Fri­day evening.

At nearly mid­night on that day, po­lice ar­rived to de­liver a writ­ten no­tice but got the wrong ad­dress and banged on the door of a 90-year-old woman be­fore post­ing it through her let­ter box. Af­ter Mr

Raby was asked if he had re­ceived the no­tice, po­lice had to re­turn on Satur­day to re­de­liver it.

Mr Raby added: “They had it in their heads that we were at­tract­ing 1,000s from the North West to some silly car­ni­val which we weren’t. We had al­ways said it was for the peo­ple liv­ing here and that no-one should make un­nec­es­sary jour­neys for it.”

In a joint state­ment, the two coun­cils said: “West Lan­cashire is proud of its links with the armed forces and we sup­port many events that com­mem­o­rate their ac­tions.

“How­ever your health and safety is our top pri­or­ity dur­ing this pan­demic.

“Af­ter a great deal of con­sid­er­a­tion, in­clud­ing with the Borough Coun­cil, it was de­cided that Satur­day’s pa­rade of ve­hi­cles in Tar­leton and Hes­keth Bank would lead to un­ac­cept­able risk of spread­ing Covid-19 in our com­mu­ni­ties.

“This de­ci­sion was taken by Lan­cashire County Coun­cil, who have re­spon­si­bil­i­ties for pub­lic health.”

Tar­leton & Hes­keth Bank Com­mu­nity Con­voy, which had pre­vi­ously taken place dur­ing the Clap for Car­ers

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