A popular circus will have to find a new field when it returns to a town after “making a mess” of the site and “intolerable” noise.
Santus Circus came to the boss of Hampton Bay Park, Herne Bay, in a “panic” after the travelling show suddenly lost the use of its previous home in the town.
Organisers were granted permission to pitch up at the camping site – which neighbours the Studd Hill estate – in August and welcomed families for almost three weeks.
But Barry Philpott, who runs Hampton Bay Park off the Whitstable Bends, says he will not welcome them back after revealing it will take about six months to flatten his field again.
And one resident says she was forced to move out of her home because of the loud noise and bright lights.
The comments were made at a Canterbury City Council meeting last week about adding a function room at the on-site bar for events, including weddings and comedy nights.
Resident Elspeth Cooper told councillors: “We were subject to the Santus Circus being positioned on the site in the summer.
“Throughout August, the noise from that facility was intolerable and I moved out of my house because of it.”
Her comments were made in an objection to plans to open a function room at the Old Garage Bar, based at Hampton Bay Park.
She says the noise in rehearsals and shows impacted her mental health and called for the circus not to return to the site.
Mr Philpott told the licensing committee Santus Circus used his bottom field, which is not part of the campsite.
“They lost their field due to the owner dying and came to me in a panic,” he said.
“They made a mess of my field and I didn’t make much money out of it either.
“I don’t think I will be doing it again.
“I have six months of work to make the field flat again.”
Circus owner Ernest Santus says his team were on land belonging to the owner of Hampton Bay Park for two-and-a-half weeks in August.
“Just after the start of our visit, I was approached by an elderly lady living nearby,” he said.
“At her request, we reduced the level of the music which accompanies the performance, all of which is played inside the Big Top. No music is played outside.
“The same lady told me lights on the tent poles shone into her house and disturbed her.
“Those lights were switched off for the rest of our time there.”
He says they received no further complaints from neighbouring residents.
“As is normal when any temporary structures are removed, an area of grass had turned yellow within the Big Top,” he added.
“I am not aware of any damage to the site surface by our vehicles, nor of any negative comments from residents.”
Canterbury City Council spokesman Rob Davies says the circuses are not a licensable activity under the Licensing Act.
“This circus took place on the Studd Hill estate.
“This is privately owned and managed land over which we have no control. It was the decision of the landowner to host the circus.
“We are aware some residents expressed concerns about it and we would recommend they take these up with the landowner directly, whose decision it will again be on whether the circus returns in the future.”
The council says it has been approached once in the past about the use of its land for Santus Circus, but no formal application has been made.
Mr Philpott submitted a licensing application for a function hall at the Old Garage Bar and to remove a restriction the premises cannot be used between November 1 and March 1.
The opening times will be from midday until 12.30am and will serve alcohol until midnight after the plans were approved by councillors last Wednesday.
Mr Philpott said: “The actual functions would be open to the general public but only under the fact they would have to be booked in at least 48 hours before a function.
“We would have a list of who they are and it is not something where anyone can walk in off the street from.”
The Heymar Leisure boss currently has a licence for the bar, which holds about 30 people and is “relatively small”.
“It is the second year of it being open and it has grown so fast for our customers we need the space and to keep my good staff who are very hard to come by,” he added.
“I do not want to lay them off for five months because I cannot expect to be there again next season.
“To get quality workers, you need to look after them.”
The camping season runs from April to October and Mr Philpott says he has no wish to open the camping site in winter as it is “not viable”.