HASLEMERE Town Council has faced accusations of “greed” and “vandalism” after allowing a funfair to go ahead on Lion Green despite a prolonged spell of heavy rain.
Shayler’s Funfair has been visiting the town annually for decades – but has unfortunately clashed with deluges of rain almost every year since relocating from the Fairground car park in Wey Hill to Lion Green.
This resulted in quagmires in both 2018 and 2019 – after which Haslemere Town Council, which owns the green, implemented a six-month ‘winter ban’ on large-scale events taking place on the open space.
However, bookings are allowed from mid-May onwards, so the funfair was allowed to go ahead from May 17 to 24.
Typically, it was again met with heavy rain, resulting in the mud-fest as pictured.
One resident voiced their displeasure with the above sign, while another, James Sanders, said: “Haslemere Town Council has let down Lion Green again because of greed, allowing the funfair to go ahead despite the poor weather warning for the week, and leaving Lion Green in a shocking state of repair after all the hard work that had been carried out to get the green back to its former glory after 2018 and 2019 mess.”
But Haslemere Town Council has defended its management of Lion Green in response to criticism.
Town clerk Lisa O’Sullivan said: “The town council recognises there are mixed views in the community regarding the use of Lion Green and tries to manage its use accordingly, allowing the events our residents enjoy to take place while limiting the times of year when the green can be used.
“Occasionally there are times where damage is done by users, but the council takes a significant deposit from the major hirers and costs of repair are not done at the taxpayers’ expense.
“Quite often damage to the green looks far worse that it is and can very easily be repaired.
“It also needs to be acknowledged that rental money for hire of the green quite often exceeds £7,000.
“This is used to offset the ongoing maintenance costs and if rentals of the green were prohibited, these costs would more likely than not have to be borne by our residents via the precept.
“The council welcomes comments from residents regarding the continued use of Lion Green for large events. They can contact me directly by email [email protected] or phone 01428 654305.”
Councillor Peter Nicholson, ward member for Shottermill and chairman of the council’s amenities working group, said he was elected in 2019 on a ticket of banning the use of Lion Green for large events in the winter months, and achieved his aim soon afterwards.
Like residents, he lamented the “offensive state” of the green this week, but added the funfair was a popular annual event in Haslemere’s calendar, and put it down to simple bad luck that it clashed again with the “awful wet weather”.