Alton fair to go ahead as county council backs down

By Jon Walker   |   Senior reporter   |
Thursday 1st October 2020 2:30 pm
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Alton’s visiting fun fair can now go ahead at The Butts from tomorrow (Photo: Kieran Cox Photography)

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AFTER saying Alton fair couldn’t go ahead for safety reasons, the county council now says it can – as long as all Covid-19 safety measures are in place.

This is after Winchester City Council, on Hampshire County Council’s advice, cancelled John Searle’s fair in New Alresford on October 15 for the same reasons.

Now Mr Searle says the Alton fair on The Butts will run from today (October 1) until Sunday.

This is despite Hampshire County Council asking him to “voluntarily” cancel it because of fears that fairgoers may be at risk to Covid-19.

Hampshire and Alton town councillor Andrew Joy said yesterday: “I can only apologise for the confusion.

“But our concerns do not quite allow us to issue a direction to close the operation.

“However, it is still the county council’s strong preference it doesn’t go ahead.”

Hampshire director of public health Simon Bryant has also asked the fair owner to cancel.

Mr Searle from Hook was initially told last week told it couldn’t go ahead because:

? Covid-19 has continued to increase nationally and in Hampshire.

? The National Alert Level is now ‘four’, meaning that Covid-19 is “rising exponentially and enforced social distancing” was needed.

? The government has issued new guidelines to reduce exposure and onward spread of infection. This includes the ‘rule of six’, which cannot be practically enforced at a fun-fair. Given that family’s will attend, this adds a further dimension to the opportunity of onward infection.

But at 7pm on Tuesday the county council told Alton Town Council that a directive stopping the fair going ahead wouldn’t be issued.

The town council said: “Mr Searle has advised us he is fully confident that all measures required to ensure their operation is Covid safe are in place.

“And they have submitted their fair risk assessment accordingly.”

The next Searle fair is Petersfield’s Taro Fair, now proposed for the weekend of October 10.

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