Covid-19 fears halt VJ Day celebration
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