Band contest won’t suffer beer walk’s fate

Reporter: Marina Berry
Date published: 22 November 2011

SWIFT action has been taken to halt rumours that Saddleworth Band Contest could be axed following last week’s announcement that the beer walk will not take place next year.

Mischief makers have been slammed for spreading the rumours, and council chiefs have pledged the traditional event will go ahead.

Oldham Council acted in the wake of the beer walk blow, which it said had led to “misguided speculation” that the Whit Friday Band Contests were under threat.

The council says it is in “positive discussions” with the organisers of the 2012 Saddleworth band contests to make sure they take place. The council issued the reassurance, saying officers had been in talks with the organisers for several weeks. Proposals to fund the contests will go to Saddleworth and Lees District Partnership’s December 1 meeting.

Councillor Jean Stretton said: “There has never been any suggestion of a problem about this event going ahead from Oldham Council’s viewpoint. We fully appreciate the value and heritage of the Whit Friday events and their significance to Saddleworth in terms of tourism, the local economy, and for local residents. Why on Earth would we want to see this fantastic event stopped?

“We have been talking with the organisers and interested parties for several weeks and a report on the funding options to support this event will go to the next Saddleworth and Lees District Partnership. This report has been prepared early in order to ensure that all the provisional arrangements can start to be made with certainty as soon as possible in order to ensure that 2012’s band contest is another stunning success.”

Debbie Abrahams, Oldham East and Saddleworth MP, has received several letters, emails and tweets from constituents concerned about the axing of the beer walk.

The event has been dropped for the first time in 39 years over difficulties controlling unofficial walkers and the potential costs involved in doing so.

Mrs Abrahams said: “I am trying to contact the organisers and I have been in contact with Chief Superintendent Tim Forber to discuss this matter.”

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