Council ‘in limbo’ on guidance for events

Plans for spring events in Biddulph have been thrown into “a state of limbo” as the local council waits for guidance on the best course of action for reacting to coronavirus.
Among the events that could be cancelled should the Government introduce stricter guidelines on public gatherings is the town’s first Garden Festival, a celebration of all things garden-related.
The idea for the festival was discussed at a meeting of Biddulph Town Council’s Town and Community Committee on Tuesday, 18th February after meetings with the head gardener at Biddulph Grange Gardens.
“We’re determined not to overreact and cancel everything”, said the town council’s chief officer Sarah Haydon, “but we’re also trying to keep our people safe.
“It’s clear that we will have to take a longer-term view on some of the events that we had planned for the spring. 
“We will have to look at whether we will be cancelling them or not. Without wishing to be overdramatic about it, if we are told not to encourage large groups of people to be gathering, then we will have to postpone these things.
“It’s a shame because we have said as a town council that we want to do more weekend events that would get people into the town centre, allowing them to rediscover the shops and promote a bit of tourism in Biddulph.”
The Garden Festival is scheduled to take place on Saturday, 2nd May and would see roads closed in the town centre for garden-themed events, with stalls selling plants and gardening equipment.
Talks and demonstrations were also planned for the town hall, followed by a small beer festival. 
Biddulph Grange’s head gardener was keen to support the event and hoped to hold demonstrations for people to “learn new skills”. It was also suggested that schools could be involved, where each local school would design a “tray garden” to be built on the day.
The festival was seen as a way to celebrate the success of Biddulph In Bloom in last year’s competition, where an army of volunteers led by Hilda Sheldon MBE won gold in every category in which they competed.
Mrs Haydon added: “We are getting guidance from the National Association of Local Councils and, so far, they are saying that it’s business as usual, but we are waiting for more advice from them about meetings.”
It was noted at a meeting of the council last month that it would be “a very busy spring with the mayor’s function, the Garden Festival and the VE Day commemorations”.
Question marks hang over whether the mayor’s charity concert will go ahead as planned, the artisan market will return to Biddulph at the beginning of April, or the VE Day commemorations will go ahead.