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Danson Festival cancellation explained by Bexley councillor

PUBLISHED: 15:59 04 April 2014 | UPDATED: 16:47 04 April 2014

Danson Festival has been cancelled this year by Bexley Council due to

Danson Festival has been cancelled this year by Bexley Council due to "poor ground conditions".

Archant

The initial shock of the popular Danson Festival being cancelled may have subsided, but now Bexley’s residents want to know answers for why the decision was made.

Danson Park.Danson Park.

The community festival in Danson Park, which attracts around 60,000 people each year, has proved immensely successful in recent years in pencilling itself into the social calendars of many families across the borough.

This week Cllr Don Massey, though, reluctantly announced the July festival was cancelled because the ground had not sufficiently dried out after last winter’s deluge.

And Cllr Massey, cabinet member for community safety and leisure, has moved quickly to fully explain his decision.

He said: “I walked the park on Tuesday [the day before the decision was announced] and there are parts down by the lake which are marshy, there are parts about 10 yards from the lake which are sodden. You cannot walk down there.

Cllr Don Massey spoke to the Bexley Times and was happy to explain his decision to cancel Danson Festival. Photo credit: Bexley CouncilCllr Don Massey spoke to the Bexley Times and was happy to explain his decision to cancel Danson Festival. Photo credit: Bexley Council

“We know that if we have any kind of heavy vehicles and foot fall the ground will be ripped up.”

Specialist consultants, according to Cllr Massey, produced a report detailing the risks involved if the two-day event was to go ahead.

Cllr Massey is keen for this report to see the light of day and for the issue to be debated at Environment and Leisure Overview and Scrutiny Committee on April 15.

He is yet to hear back from the council about whether the finer details can be discussed, or even if the name of the consultants can be made public.

“I have been aware of the issue since last autumn,” he added. “We got some consultants to go to the park and there was a report too.

“We knew we wanted the weather to be reasonable over the winter and when you want something it goes against you.”

Councillor Massey revealed the park’s geology is to blame for the grounds inability to recover from a huge event like Danson Festival.

A clay-based soil coupled with more exaggerated weather, Cllr Massey says, affects grass growth in the park.

“Bizarrely, in recent years in this country we do not get a bit of rain and then a bit of sun anymore – which are tremendous conditions for growing grass,” explained Cllr Massey.

“Now we get baking hot sun and then loads of rain which means you cannot replace the grass.”

Despite the disappointing news, Cllr Massey insists the public’s reaction has been understanding on the whole, yet he does admit some people have failed to take his decision with good grace.

He said: “In actual fact the public’s response has been very supportive from a number of places but also people are very upset too.

“I do get a lot of comments – it is a democracy after all. I do know how many people love a festival. It is not a decision I have enjoyed making.

Although, he added: “There are people making up all kinds of stories about it, saying that I have not received enough brown envelopes this year, but that is ridiculous.”

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