Dolphin Morris Men dance the final Gate to Southwell

Morris men doing the Gate to Southwell in 1981 The Gate to Southwell was revived in 1981

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Morris men are dancing from Nottingham to Southwell for the last time - because they say red tape has made the centuries-old tradition too expensive.

Dolphin Morris Men have led the Gate to Southwell procession every year since they revived it in 1981.

But Nottinghamshire Police says it can no longer manage traffic for events like this "when budgets are shrinking".

The dancers say private traffic management costs too much - but the council says safety has to be ensured.

Chris Gigg from Dolphin Morris Men said: "We are disappointed that an event that we revived in 1981, based on a 14th Century tradition, is coming to an end.

"The event is not run for profit and has given great pleasure to hundreds of dancers and musicians as well as thousands of spectators and well-wishers."

Morris men outside the Council House, Nottingham, in 1981 The procession starts in Old Market Square in Nottingham

According to Dolphin Morris Men, which researched the history of Gate to Southwell, it is a traditional Whitsuntide procession.

Morris dancers from across the region gather in Old Market Square, Nottingham, and receive a purse of money from the Lord Mayor.

The money, known as the Southwell Pence, represents Nottingham's traditional contribution to the upkeep of Southwell Minster.

The money is taken to Southwell Minster by foot, and nowadays, also by bus.

Morris men doing the Gate to Southwell in 1981 The journey is made by foot, and nowadays also by bus

A collection is made along the route, raising money for charities including Help for Heroes, Cancer Research, Nottinghamshire Hospice and Reach.

Peter Goode, Nottinghamshire Council Council's traffic manager, said: "It will be disappointing to see the loss of a 900-year-old tradition, but there is also a need to recognise the complexity of managing old events safely on today's roads, which carry high volumes of fast-moving traffic."

He said the council had supported the event by waiving charges for making legal orders.

But the Morris men said road closures, costing £1,048 each, and paying for a traffic management company, made it too expensive to continue after this year.

In a statement, Nottinghamshire Police said: "There are a large number of carnivals and events which take place across the county every year and we cannot support some and not others because that would be unfair."

The police make exceptions for events of "national significance", but said they could not take on responsibilities like this "when budgets are shrinking".

Morris men at Southwell Minster in 1981 The procession ends at Southwell Minster

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