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Herne Bay Carnival cancelled after it was set to return for first time in three years

A Kent town's oldest event has been cancelled for only the second time since the 1940s.

The Herne Bay Carnival has been scrapped at short notice after it was set to return following a three-year hiatus.

Scores of people lined the route for the Herne Bay Carnival in 2016
Scores of people lined the route for the Herne Bay Carnival in 2016

One of the county’s largest processions was expected to travel along the seafront on Saturday, August 13 - continuing a tradition that has lasted 140 years.

It was set to form part of the Herne Bay Festival, which is set to go ahead despite huge funding cuts.

Organisers of Herne Bay Festival announced they will plough ahead with the month-long extravaganza - which started on Monday - following concerns the loss of a sizeable council grant could throw its future into doubt.

A statement from the organiser of Herne Bay Carnival, Andy Birkett, said: "It is with a heavy heart and great disappointment that I have to advise that the planned carnival events during the Herne Bay Festival have been cancelled.

"Those that know me well will know how difficult a decision this has been especially after two years of not holding events due to the pandemic and the subsequent aftermath.

The Herne Bay Carnival in 2018. Picture: Paul Amos
The Herne Bay Carnival in 2018. Picture: Paul Amos

"I would like to personally apologise for any inconvenience this may cause to those who had already shown a willingness to get involved in any of the events but especially the carnival.

"I have been involved with the Carnival Association for some 35 years and the decision to cancel has been the most difficult one in that time.

"But hopefully I will be able in September to announce news which will ensure that events up and over the Christmas period take place and that Carnival Day takes place on Saturday, August 12 2023 bigger and better.

"I will be contacting all that have expressed an interest in this summer's events individually and would once again like to apologise for any disappointment the decision has caused."

It means it is the second time the event has been cancelled since 1947 after it was scrapped in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Scores of people at the Herne Bay Carnival in 2018. Picture: Paul Amos
Scores of people at the Herne Bay Carnival in 2018. Picture: Paul Amos

Mr Birkett told KentOnline it was cancelled after almost a week of deliberation due to a "whole gamut of things" - but would not confirm what exactly these were.

"To run the event and not have it at its greatest capacity would be doing it and the town a disservice," he said.

"We would rather than when the event is in place it is what it should be, which is one of the best carnival’s in the county.

"It’s not because of funding. When I took over as chairman, we always made sure there is money in the pot for future carnivals.

"But some things have sat idle for two years and it is difficult for some people to get remotivated."

A post on the Facebook page of the Herne Bay Festival also confirms the event has been cancelled, along with Fayre on the Square on Saturday and the children's pavement art competition on Wednesday.

"As one of the funders of these events, we are looking at what we can improve to ensure these events run smoothly next year and one way of doing this will be to support the carnival association in strengthening their committee to help spread the workload," the post said.

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