Midsummer residents call for lorry ban

Anna Croall 27 November 2008

There have been calls for fairground lorries to be banned from Midsummer Common following complaints about damage to green.

Local residents and members of the ‘Friends of Midsummer Common’ have expressed concerns that the ground is struggling to recover from damage caused by the trucks used to transport the fair equipment used on the space regularly.

Mr Dick Baxter, who is chairman of the ‘Friends of Midsummer Common’ and lives in nearby North Terrace told the Cambridge Evening News (CEN):

“Some years it has been left looking like a disaster area after it has been completely churned out by these lorries. People have very large lorries to transport large and exciting rides. They are much heavier and leave a bigger impression as they drive across the common.”

There have also been some who have expressed concern about the environmental impact of the frequent fairs, as a result of the damage. Baxter, whose group is often involved in conservation and repairs on the common, added that: “There is some evidence the ground is compacting in areas near the trees, which can damage them. Midsummer Common is also a flood plain and damage caused by these trucks is bad news.”

The Midsummer Fair, which has been visiting the common for more than 800 years, has become a local institution. Baxter was keen to reassure people that they were not calling for the outright cancellation of fairs on the common, but rather a more suitable plan for the transport of rides onto the grounds.

He insisted: “While we’d like to see it just as green space, we also welcome these events and recognise it is the best place for them. It is a common and everyone has a right to access it, so we can’t see the fair moving away to let the ground recover.”

Alastair Wilson, head of the council’s green spaces department, wished to assure that the council was listening to the group’s message. He commented: “We have been working with the Friends group and have a wildlife strategy to encourage biodiversity.”

Jesus College expressed similar concern after damage caused in Chapel Court at last year’s May Ball. The grounds, churned up by the lorries which were used to transport Dodgems and an old-fashioned steam Carousel for the May Ball in 2008, took the whole summer to recover.

As a result of the damage caused, it was agreed that no trucks would be allowed onto the court again, and that nothing would be held there for any future May Balls.

Anna Croall