County drops street party charges after minister slams ‘bunting police’

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THERE will be no charges for Jubilee street parties after a cabinet minister criticised Suffolk County Council in the House of Commons.

The county announced yesterday it was dropping charges after the protest over a £396 fee a diversion round the party in Westbury Avenue, Bury St Edmunds, reached the House of Commons.

Street party organiser Amanda Burroughs raised it with Bury St Edmunds MP David Ruffley who branded the county ‘jobsworths’ and asked communities minister Eric Pickles last Friday: “Will the Secretary of State please assure me that he will do everything to slash such pointless pettifogging bureaucracy?”

Mr Pickles replied: “I can assure my Honourable Friend that those regulations have gone. The bunting police have gone, and there is no need to put up expensive signs or do a traffic survey. Why to goodness cannot we simply get on with celebrating the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and recognise that such roads can be closed with the minimum of disruption?

“Let us just enjoy the day.”

A county council spokeswoman said on Tuesday: “We’re not forcing people to pay, there are other options. They can get a private company to do it.

“We were asked what we would charge for making the signs, the delivery of them and making the diversion. There are certain things like the size of the signs and the font [lettering] you have to have.”

But yesterday Mark Bee, Suffolk County Council’s leader, said: “After listening to the people of Suffolk and considering all the issues, we have made the decision not to charge residents for a Special Events Order or for the production and instillation of traffic management signs directly related to Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

“This is a huge national celebration and it is right that the county council plays its part in making it as easy as possible for people to organise street parties and other activities to commemorate this historic event.

“I hope that this will encourage many more people to get involved and that the people of Suffolk have a fantastic time in whatever way they choose to celebrate.”

Mrs Burroughs said: “I can’t believe the time and energy that’s been wasted on this.”

Mr Ruffley said today: “I am glad that I raised it in the House of Commons. It seems to have had the desired effect because now no Jubilee street party in Suffolk will have to bear the cost of road closures.”