Beds, Herts & Bucks

Leighton Buzzard circus adverts removed over clown phobia

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Media captionA circus spokesman said the unnamed woman must have a "serious, serious phobia"

A council has removed clown posters after a woman complained that she "could not physically walk or drive" past it.

Leighton Buzzard Town Council said it took down adverts for John Lawson's Circus, posted outside the Falcon pub, at the woman's request.

The authority said it was a "short-term, easily solvable problem".

A phobia expert said the council was "accommodating" an irrational fear. The circus has called for a compromise.

The council said the unnamed woman had told it she lived very near to where the posters are displayed on Stanbridge Road.

It said the circus would only be allowed to go ahead in future years if it agreed not to use the posters.

Image copyright South Beds News Agency
Image caption The circus has been told to remove the poster

Senior operations officer Lisa Jarvis said it was the third year running they had been removed.

Although she admitted it was the first time the authority had told the circus to stop using the adverts.

"We take complaints on a case by case basis but this was a short-term, easily solvable problem," she said.

"The circus is on the park which is our responsibility and we are responsible to our residents, so something like that is in our gift to fix, so we fixed it."

'Drastic action'

But Mr Lawson said: "We don't know where this lady lives and we didn't put [the posters] there deliberately," he said.

"Thousands of people pass it over the week, it seems daft to take it down for one person."

Mr Lawson said he would like to speak to the woman to see if they could reach a compromise for next year.

"She could possibly take another route or we could maybe put up a separate board without a clown on it," he said.

Hypnotherapist Christine Black said fear of clowns is fairly common and she could understand how "fearful" the woman felt but the wrong approach was being taken.

"The council have merely accommodated her fear," she said.

"[The lady] is trying to manage her fear by controlling her environment but she needs to control the irrational fear."

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