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Police say they are no longer able to monitor Memorial Park funfair in Herne Bay

By Jack Dyson

The future of a long-running funfair is in doubt after police revealed they no longer have the resources to patrol it.

A city council report, presented to the Herne Bay Forum, says officers have noticed an increase in anti-social behaviour during the past two years near to, but not inside, the Forrest Amusements event.

They argue the funfair, which has been a regular fixture in the town for more than 30 years, is a drain on police resources and the Memorial Park is an "unsuitable location" for it.

The Herne Bay Funfair in Dering Road
The Herne Bay Funfair in Dering Road

The report says officers raised it as an issue because they no longer have the resources to police the event.

The force has urged the council to relocate it.

Cllr Andrew Cook said: “I live far enough away from it for it not to be an inconvenience to me, but close enough to know exactly what goes on there.

“The funfair isn’t what it was 30 years ago and the culture of gangs brewing in the town - and I can tell this as a person who’s been on the wrong end of a gang of 15 and 16 year olds - means that if the police aren’t there to control them then that needs to be taken into consideration.”

Officers also noted they found it particularly difficult to police on the nights it was running a £1-a-ride discount.

In August, organisers struck a compromise with the local authority to only make the offer available until 6pm.

Dodgems at the funfair in Memmorial Park, Herne Bay
Dodgems at the funfair in Memmorial Park, Herne Bay

Maria Forrest, of Forrest Amusements, says she has not noticed a rise in crime when the funfair comes to Herne Bay.

“There wasn’t any anti-social behaviour at our event this year,” she said.

“We didn’t do anything differently and we did everything the council asked us to.

"As far as I’m concerned, there isn’t a problem and the council was very happy with our last visit.”

The council report suggested three options for the future of the funfair - to decline permission for it to run in the town, move it to a different location or allow it to continue at the Memorial Park if organisers agree to measures designed to reduce anti-social behaviour.

“Every town has anti-social behavioural issues; I don’t think the fair can be blamed for them,” Ms Forrest continued.

“If it’s happening in and around the area when we are in town, it would happen if we weren’t there.

The funfair in Memmorial Park, Herne Bay on Wednesday. Picture: Chris Davey FM2737151 (3603141)
The funfair in Memmorial Park, Herne Bay on Wednesday. Picture: Chris Davey FM2737151 (3603141)

"We haven’t had any major issues; I don’t understand what the problem is.”

Cllr Cook also called for the fair to be relocated if it continues to be powered by diesel generators.

“Unless we can get electricity into the park – which I think is unlikely to happen – the days of the funfair in the park are finished,” he said.

“Even when it’s not operating there’s a black haze over the whole of the park.

"It’s enough to make a person as fit as me feel as if I’m choking on the stuff.

“This is something we seriously need to get to grips with.”

However, Ms Forrest says the technology to power a funfair solely with electricity has not been developed yet and that if such restrictions were placed on the event: “Canterbury council isn’t going to have any funfairs”.

Cllr Joe Howes, who chaired the debate, asked council officers for more information on the feasibility of moving the event and the impact its diesel generators have on air quality for the committee to consider at its next meeting in January.

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