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Manning’s and Thurston’s Fun Fair owners' disappointment at missing out on Dover


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The owners of a family fun fair have hit out after their usual two-week stint in Dover was cancelled.

Manning’s and Thurston’s Family Fun Fair has been coming to the town for around 17 years, and usually set up in Pencester Gardens for two weeks at the end of May.

Manning's and Thurston's family fun fair will not be returning to Dover this year. Pictures: Madison Manning
Manning's and Thurston's family fun fair will not be returning to Dover this year. Pictures: Madison Manning

But the event has been unable to go ahead this month after the council said the park is no longer suitable.

And another location has not been offered.

Co-organiser John Thurston said: "It's a real shame. Dover isn't our biggest money maker, but it is nice to be there.

"We've made some really strong ties.

"I think the council don't appreciate what the fair means to the people or what it does for the town.

The fair is usually held in Pencester Gardens
The fair is usually held in Pencester Gardens

"We don't even know what work is happening in the gardens. But we feel the council could have worked with us."

Madison Manning, who also works for the fair, added: "We've been coming to Dover for some years, same place and same dates.

"We have so many regulars who ask about us returning.

"We're in Faversham now and Folkestone next week. But this is when we should be in Dover. We've had to change our regular run.

"We've had a lot of messages from people, asking why another site wasn't offered.

Pencester Gardens is located in Dover town centre. Picture: Chris Davey
Pencester Gardens is located in Dover town centre. Picture: Chris Davey

"We know there are places we could go.

"There isn't much in Dover for people to do, and we know people enjoy the fair."

The football ground was initially suggested, the council says, but is not suitable due to a busy schedule.

A post on Facebook from the fun fair said: "Unfortunately Manning’s and Thurston’s family funfair will not be returning to Pencester Gardens, Dover due to proposed work by the council on the gardens.

"We did ask for a alternative site in Dover but none were available.

"We would like to take this opportunity to thank the community of Dover and the surrounds for their support over the years.

"We’ve loved bringing the fair and enjoyment to your town and are saddened that it has come to an end."

The post was also shared on the private Dover for Disgruntled Dovorians Facebook page, and has received 248 comments - many suggesting alternative venues.

One post said: "That fun fair was a treat for kids with families who couldn't afford loads but memories were more valuable."

A second said: "The fair gives a lot of young people and families something to do during half term which doesn’t cost a lot. It also gives security guards extra income. Think DDC should be ashamed of this poor choice."

"We do understand the matters raised, but we have explained that it is no longer felt the park is a suitable location for the fun fair..."

Another post on the Facebook page is calling on residents to email councillors asking for another location to be found.

A spokesman for Dover District Council (DDC) said: "We have been in discussions with the fun fair, as we are working with our partners to enhance Pencester Gardens as a green space in the centre of Dover.

"We do understand the matters raised, but we have explained that it is no longer felt the park is a suitable location for the fun fair, including issues around the movement and siting of HGVs and heavy fairground equipment.

"We have been working with the organisers to look at other possible venues, but unfortunately, Elms Vale is not suitable at the moment due to the level of sporting activities, including local football matches."

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