New Forest Fairy Festival organisers 'devastated' by cancellation

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Crowds at fairy festivalImage source, Forest Fairy Festival/Holly Norman
Image caption,
Festival attendees are being contacted about ticket refunds

Organisers of a popular event where people dress up as fairies said they were "devastated" it had been cancelled with days to go.

New Forest Fairy Festival was set to take place on Saturday and Sunday and had been granted a temporary event licence by New Forest District Council.

But public health officials have axed the event, which was due to attract about 3,000 visitors.

Hampshire County Council said it was to protect the wellbeing of residents.

The festival's organisers said they received the "devastating news" on Wednesday and were contacting those involved to refund tickets.

They previously stated the event at Burley Park would be Covid-secure, with "in-depth cleaning regimes" and "hand sanitiser stations".

Organiser Holly Norman, who said she also had a premises licence, said she stood to lose about £70,000.

"It's absolutely despicable what they've done," she said.

Image source, Gordon Griffiths
Image caption,
Some local residents had raised concerns about the impact of the festival on Burley village

The county council reviewed its decision to grant an event licence when new restrictions banning social gatherings came into force on 14 September.

It said: "Regrettably, taking into account the increasing prevalence of Covid-19 in Hampshire and the New Forest, our view is that it would not be possible to run the event with such large numbers while assuring the public's health.

"We appreciate how upsetting this is for the organiser but our first duty must be to reduce the spread of coronavirus."

New Forest District Council said it had previously received objections from local residents about the impact on Burley village.

Resident Colin Hobbs had said social distancing would be "impossible" and the event would "undermine local efforts to stem the disease".

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