No parade u-turn

St George's Day Parade around Wigan town centre to Wigan Parish Church
St George's Day Parade around Wigan town centre to Wigan Parish Church
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SCOUT leaders have turned down a Wigan Council offer to help revive this year’s St George’s Day Parade.

Organisers of the annual event, who pulled the plug when police said they could not afford to patrol it and other stewarding issues arose, say it is too late to change plans now.

Instead they will press ahead with a longer-than-usual service at Wigan Parish Church but say they wil review the local authority’s suggestion next year.

Borough parades in general have been a bone of contention for several years now as police look to cut non-emergency budgets.

And so it has been with the St George’s Day event in Wigan which has of late been much reduced in length.

However, earlier this month it was announced that after consultation with the police and local authority, Wigan District Scout Council decided to scrap the procession over health and safety issues. The decision was a unilateral one by the scouts but hastened by the fact that motorists last year ignored temporary road closures.

Wigan Council’s traffic manager, Kevin Hargreaves, said: “Wigan Council fully supports the St George’s Day Parade. Plans have already been made by council staff to ensure this year’s event can take place safely and successfully. Unfortunately, we have learnt from the local press that the Wigan District Scouts have chosen to cancel it.

“This is a great shame and we urge the Scouts to reconsider and contact us as soon as possible to discuss how we can help ensure the parade does happen.”

But District Commissioner for Wigan District Scout Council, Paul Green, said that despite the kind council offer, the scouts would continue with the April 21 service as planned and review the situation again next year.

He said: “During last year’s parade an incident occurred where drivers refused to acknowledge the temporary road closures arranged by the Wigan Council Traffic Management Team and proceeded to drive down the road that the parade was using.

“Following a health and safety risk assessment by Wigan and District Scout Council, it was decided that for this year, we would forgo the parade but would hold a longer service at the Parish Church.

“Next year we will again review how we celebrate our Patron Saint’s feast which may involve parading around Wigan town centre.”