Padiham historic Whit Walks in danger again

MP Gordon Birtwistle pictured during the walk in Padiham.
MP Gordon Birtwistle pictured during the walk in Padiham.
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A question mark hangs over an historic tradition in Padiham, for the second time.

For Lancashire Police has already said it will not be marshalling the annual Whit Walks in 2015.

The crushing news came after the Rev Mark Jones sent a letter of thanks to Lancashire Police for marshalling this year’s procession of witness.

He said: “I have been told the decision has been made at a high level so I have asked to speak to the officer responsible to express our disappointment and also ask for an explanation.’’

The event was saved this year at the 11th hour when extra police officers, mainly volunteer specials, agreed to cover all the road junctions on the route.

There had been fears that the Victorian era procession of witness would not be able to go ahead for the first time in over a century due to police funding cuts.

Now its future hangs in the balance again although alternatives are being looked at, including paying a traffic management company to look after the road closures, finding a route that does not involve road closures or asking church members take on the task of marshalling themselves.

Mr Jones added: “Employing a traffic management company would cost around £2,000, a huge amount of money we simply do not have spare. I am not sure about the legalities of us marshalling the walk ourselves as I believe only police officers have the power to stop traffic.’’

The Whit Walks are part of Padiham’s heritage and ironically this year, the numbers of people watching and walking were up on previous years.

Mr Jones said the issue would be discussed at the next Parochial Church Council meeting and each church involved in the walk would also be consulted as to the next step.