Longridge parade axed to saved money

The annual procession and service for Longridge Town Council led by mayor Coun Sarah Rainford, councillors, local organisations and schools. 
Writer:  Anthony Farran

The annual procession and service for Longridge Town Council led by mayor Coun Sarah Rainford, councillors, local organisations and schools. Writer: Anthony Farran

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Longridge’s traditional civic Sunday has been axed in a cost-cutting move.

It brings to an end more than 40 years of town’s council, churches, its community and organisations coming together in a procession of corporate witness.

A number of factors influenced the decision including the cost of closing the streets and marshalling the parade, and the increasingly poor turnout to watch the parade

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The town council said the costs associated with closed roads was a driving factor behind the decision.

A council spokesman said: “In a break from tradition thought to have pre-dated the 1974 civic re-arrangement, Longridge Town Council has decided not to parade on the town’s streets on Civic Sunday and there will be no formal civic church service either.

“A number of factors influenced the decision including the cost of closing the streets and marshalling the parade, and the increasingly poor turnout to watch the parade. Also the view was expressed by Longridge Churches Together that there were better ways for the council to reach its community than through a bespoke service crammed into a packed Sunday schedule.”

Newly-elected mayor Coun Rupert Swarbrick said he has convened a small group to come up with an alternative way of introducing the civic leadership to the community.

Following the town council’s decision to axe the traditional observance of Civic Sunday, it has announced that for the civic year 2016/17 Mayor Coun Rupert Swarbrick will attend a normal Sunday service at each of the Longridge churches.

“This will be by arrangement with the clergy of each church during the mayoral year,” added Coun Swarbrick.

Although losing the Civic Sunday parade, the council is to take part in the Field Day procession on June 11 following discussions with the event’s committee.

“They have kindly agreed to allow the town council to take part,” said Coun Swarbrick.

“Normally the Mayor and consort are part of the judging panel for the best float and, although details are to be finalised, there will be a way for the civic party to be involved and judge as well.”

The council intends to take a pitch on the field after the parade where councillors and officials can meet members of the Longridge community.

At the last council meeting, councillors rubber-stamped an budget ceiling of £500 for the day to buy adult and children’s gift items which will be set out in a gazebo on the pitch.

Corporate publicity was seen as a must as well as community involvement. Likewise, ideas were put forward for a council float for the parade, with council banners on each side, with banners also suggested for the site on the field,

On the day there will be information about the draft Neighbourhood Plan, the council’s Small Grants Fund, details of the planned 1914 /1918 War Memorial and its fund, the Towneley Gardens project, and the work of the town council.