Kings Heath Street Festival cancelled over security need

Image source, Martin Mullaney
Image caption,
About 20,000 people attended last year's event, organisers said

A popular street festival has been cancelled after organisers said they needed extra security amid heightened terror fears.

Kings Heath Street Festival was planned for 10 September, but directors of the area's Business Improvement District have called it off.

They claim they need a "hostile vehicle mitigation plan, extra security and stewards, and bag searches".

Board chairman Chris O'Neill could not be contacted by the BBC.

While extra security measures have been cited in a statement, organisers have not said why this has led to the cancellation of the event.

Fire-ravaged building

They announced last month the annual event was to move location from York Road and Heathfield Road to a car park in The Parade because that was deemed a safer place for up to 20,000 festival-goers to gather.

But the decision was met with uproar from the community, who complained it would be next to a fire-ravaged building and a row of derelict shops.

Image source, Martin Mullaney
Image caption,
The festival takes place annually each September in York Road and Heathfield Road

In a statement, Mr O'Neill said meetings with police, fire and council officials led to the need for a four-metre wide exclusion zone to allow access for emergency vehicles and a seven-metre wide gap to allow a safe evacuation in the event of an emergency.

"We hope to revisit the Kings Heath Street Festival in 2018 with a new layout which complies with legislation, to ensure this much-loved event returns to the area, for a celebration of all things Kings Heath," he said.

The sudden cancellation has been met with anger from local businesses and festival goers, who are organising an unofficial event on the same day.

'Sad and disappointed'

Luke Close, owner of I Had One of Those, in York Road, said it was a "real blow".

"It's such a massive community and family event and from a business point of view it's very good for us," he said. "It is a great day's trading for us and we are really sad and disappointed.

"There are events in other areas that haven't been cancelled so it just seems to me that the reasons that are being given are not legitimate," he added.

A Birmingham City Council spokesperson said a briefing with the Safety Advisory Group had taken place in July "to ensure plans are safe and compliant with relevant safety legislation".

"It is vital to ensure Kings Heath BID can safely grow their Street Festival going forward - which includes having necessary security provisions in place - and our advice was to put vehicle security barriers in place.

"This is in line with advice given to all event organisers by the Safety Advisory Group."

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