Circus boss furious after moving to site with no parkingBy Becky Barnes
May 10, 2012
A circus owner is devastated after poor weather forced a relocation to a site with no parking or water.
Gerry Cottle, 66, was advised to move the circus from South Hill Park to Calfridus Way playing fields, off Ralph’s Ride, Bracknell, when heavy rain made the first site unsuitable.
A plea to relocate the circus to a field opposite South Hill Park, where there is parking, failed due to restrictions on use of the site.
The circus arrived in Bracknell on Monday, with performances from Wednesday until Sunday.
Mr Cottle, who left his family to join the circus 50 years ago, said cancelling was not an option.
He said: “I am grateful to Bracknell Town Council for bending over backwards to find a new site at Calfridus Way, but although there is parking on the site for about 40 cars they won’t let customers park because of planning permission.
“This is absolute nonsense – we have to be practical and the nearest parking is about eight minutes’ walk away.
“The weather forecast is rain so if this happens the public will get soaking wet before they sit down.
“And what about disabled people or parents with their kids?
“It feels like one obstacle after another.”
Mr Cottle has only cancelled three shows in 50 years – one in Macau, once because of a burst water main that flooded the site on the Isle of Dogs and once because of thick fog at Crystal Palace.
He said: “I pride myself on never missing shows – the show must go on.”
Sixty performers and crew are without water and Mr Cottle said he was quoted £1,400 to provide water for the site.
Mary Harris, clerk of Bracknell Town Council, said: “There is land there suitable for parking, however the town council has recently put in a planning application for that area to be used for match-day parking.
“An objection to this application has been raised by Sport England who say that they will always object when a field which could be used for sports pitches is utilised for other purposes.
“The town council is in the process of challenging this objection from Sport England, but because this issue is not yet resolved the application has not gone before the full planning committee at the borough and so at present time the town council has no formal permission to use the area of hard standing for parking.
“The town council has arranged alternative parking for circus users at Brantsbridge at the doctor’s surgery in Ralph’s Ride and will also direct people to the public parking in Lily Hill Drive.”
Performances take place at 5pm and 7.30pm today and Friday, and at 2pm and 5pm on Saturday and Sunday.
The circus is in Calfridus Way Playing Fields, off Ralph’s Ride.