Published: 15:33, 25 October 2020
| Updated: 22:42, 25 October 2020
Circus bosses have hit out at a council for cancelling their shows, 10 minutes before one was due to start.
Circus Zyair, which was due to have 10 days of shows start on Friday at the Hop Farm in Paddock Wood was told by Kent County Council that it wouldn't be able to let anyone in.
The decision comes despite the event being approved by Tonbridge and Malling council weeks earlier.
It meant staff from the event were turning people away at the door who showed up not knowing about the news.
Now, the circus is saying the decision by the authority could bankrupt them.
A spokesman for the company said: "The Covid outbreak has affected all of us in big way, and is not something that anybody could have predicted.
"Circuses got permission to open in July, although we chose not to re open our full tour as we did not feel that this was financially viable.
'We feel that the council have completely abused their power of authority and have potentially bankrupted our company.'
"As many of you are aware the Hop Farm in Kent is our base and where we usually start our season in February. We decided to work with the Hop Farm to put on a slightly smaller scale, reduced capacity and covid-secure one hour performance over the October half term.
"Along with the Hop Farm we worked closely with Tonbridge & Malling council with regards to our Covid-secure policies and everything was approved by the safety advisory group at the council.
"After the approval was given we pressed ahead with advertising, re employing staff & performers and setting up all of the equipment. This is a massive financial undertaking.
"At 4.50pm on Friday the Hop Farm received a phone call from Kent County Council who said that they were overriding the decision from Tonbridge & Malling council and that the circus was not to go ahead.
"By this point most of the customers for the 5pm show had already arrived. The police then arrived and issued us with notice stating that the circus must close, or we would be issued with the £10k fine."
The circus has said it has not had any more correspondence from KCC about the decision, except to say the weekend shows were also cancelled.
It says it will be launching an appeal.
A spokesman added: "We feel that the council have completely abused their power of authority and have potentially bankrupted our company which will in turn cause a lot of people to lose their jobs.
"We are incredibly sorry about the cancellations and we are broken hearted that this has been forced on both us and you."
On Friday a spokesman for KCC said: “We are sorry that this event can no longer go ahead as planned and understand that those due to attend will be disappointed.
“Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council were made aware of the event and the organisers’ protection measures several weeks ago. While the council did not have concerns at that stage, since then cases of Covid-19 have significantly increased in all areas of Kent.
“This increase can, in part, be put down to community transmission and, having considered the risks associated with this event, it has been decided that it could pose a risk to the health of those due to attend.
“Everyone has to play their part in keeping cases as low as possible in every part of the county. We urge people to continue to follow the guidance on social distancing, regular handwashing and wearing a mask in public places.”
The authority has been approached for a further comment.