A summer festival has been cancelled because of a voluntary group’s failure to secure temporary closure of a 20-metre stretch of road.
Youghal 4 All, a community group, has organised an annual food and mackerel festival in the east Cork town of Youghal for the past six years.
It says the cancellation is due to “a sudden change” in local authority procedures.
The event was scheduled for the Market Square on August 12-14. Traffic is generally diverted from a regional road through the square onto a parallel roadway, behind the tourist office.
In June, the group was permitted a similar route closure, after giving its usual advance notice to the local municipal offices.
Youghal 4 All spokesman, Adrian Hyde, says that on July 20 the group sought to confirm the road closure with the local county council office.
“But we were unexpectedly referred to Cork County Council,” he said, “who gave us until Friday 22 to submit an engineer’s report, a traffic management plan, and €1,500.”
Normally, such an application would take several weeks. Unable to meet the requirements and rather than reposition the event beyond the tourist season, the group abandoned it.
The cancellation may cost the local economy hundreds of thousands of euro, while 40 food and merchandise stallholders, musicians, and Glamorous Gran competitors will have to make alternative plans.
A freedom of information request details the lodgement of only four road closure applications for east Cork in 2015/16, and none of these concerned Youghal.
Mr Hyde says his group’s gripe is “not with the regulations, but with not being pre-warned of the new approach, especially having not met any problems a month earlier.”
However, officials in the local county council offices said the festival could have proceeded without a road-closure order.
Mr Hyde disputes the suggestion and said it would be a public risk. But one official insisted the council “did everything to ensure the festival went ahead”, indicating the Youghal 4 All group was not prepared to negotiate any further.
The official said: “Local arrangements that previously applied cannot apply in this case.
“It was made very clear, we are not the roads authority and that we have no authority to close or open a road.”
The official said if Cork County Council “had been notified well in advance, Youghal 4 All wouldn’t have found themselves in this situation.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved