THIS year's Folk and Boat Festival has been called off – but councillors are keen to host a different event later this year.

Middlewich Town Council had been eager to hold the 30th anniversary show this year to support independent shops, cafes and pubs that had already been hit by coronavirus.

It was postponed from its original date of this weekend to 25 to 27 September back in April, but at Monday's town council meeting, members agreed to cancel this year's event.

No indication on when mass gatherings can next take place has been made by the Government, and councillors agreed that the festival could not take place safely as it stands.

Cllr Jonathan Parry, Labour, said: "We have to put public safety first. The amount of staff we would need to ensure we have social distancing adhered to is phenomenal."

A report presented to councillors highlighted the potential increased costs of making the festival 'Covid-safe' in September, while the current financial climate means fewer businesses are currently able to sponsor the event.

Ticketholders will have the option to request a refund or hold onto their tickets for next year's festival.

Performers including Scouting For Girls, China Crisis and The Commitments have indicated they will perform next year, councillors were told.

The council is considering alternative events to support pubs and venues later this year if Government guidelines allow them, such as 'winter warmers' or a 'festive fringe' on the night of the Christmas lights switch-on.

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Cllr David Latham, independent, added: "We are very lucky to have the businesses we have got in our town.

"It's not our fault, but it is another kick in the teeth that they are going to suffer by not having the income and not having those extra people in town."

Meanwhile, the council also agreed to cancel this year's Middlewich Classic Car and Bike Show, after local car and bike clubs indicated they did not want the event to take place on the rescheduled October set last month.

The community awards on October 23, Remembrance Sunday events and the over-70s party on December 6 are still set to go ahead, subject to review.

The Christmas lights switch-on is set to take place on December 4, two weeks later than first planned to give it a better chance of going ahead.