Blackpool Council has banned it’s traditional carol singing and brass band performances following a debate this afternoon. The ban will stop a local Salvation Army Band playing on the four Saturdays before Christmas and on the 25th itself.
Carol singers supporting Betel, an addiction charity, will also be banned from holding performances in the town centre.
Councillors also agreed to suspend future applications for street collections until the end of March next year, although this could be lifted earlier depending on COVID-19 restrictions.
A council report feared the events could attract crowds and encourage the spread of the virus.
Blackpool Council’s public protection sub-committee debated the measures this afternoon.
A report to the committee said prior to the meeting read: “There is some concern, however, whether the collections by Betel and the Salvation Army should take place under the current Covid restrictions.
“Blackpool is currently under Tier 3 very high.
“Both collections include performances of music, whether live or recorded, and this could encourage members of the public to stop and listen.”
Betel, which supports people suffering homelessness, drug and alcohol abuse and long-term unemployment, had submitted a risk assessment to the council in a bid to keep its permit for permission for collections.
It urged the Labour-run authority that it would use recorded carol singing instead of live performers, and will just deploy a team to collect donations.
But Lee Petrak, Blackpool Council’s trading standards and licensing manager stressed face-to-face physical fundraising was not the best route to take.
Councillor Peter Hunter, however, said during the meeting he believed the risk was “not significant”.
Cllr Adrian Hutton, Chairman of the Committee added the decision to ban the Christmas traditions “was harsh” but stressed the decision was made to protect Blackpool residents.
It comes as Blackpool’s famous illuminations will be switched off until further notice as England goes into lockdown.
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The seaside resort’s annual lights display had been due to stay on until January, for two months longer than usual, in a bid to boost tourism.
Cllr Gillian Campbell, Blackpool Council’s Cabinet Member for Tourism and Culture, added: “It is hugely disappointing to have to turn off the illuminations but given the restrictions due to come in place on Thursday there is no real alternative.
“The primary purpose of the national lockdown is to get infection rates down and we cannot be seen to do anything that jeopardises that objective.
“It was always our intention to extend the lights season into the new year and if there is any way in which we can switch the lights back on during December in a safe and secure way, we will endeavour to do so.”