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Public Uproar As Burgess Hill Town Council's Jubilee Picnic Event Is Biggest Failure In Recent History

5th June 2012
By Peter Chapman

Bank Holiday Monday saw both Burgess Hill and Haywards Heath holding picnic in the park events to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.

One town went to great effort to provide a great day of entertainment for the public, the other did not. Sadly for the people of Burgess Hill it was our town that made a total shambles of this historic occasion leaving many members of the public rather p*ssed off!

What Haywards Heath had to offer:
Beech Hurst Gardens was the venue for a 'Fun for all the family' Jubilee picnic, Running from 2pm-10:30pm ---- Bring a picnic, Dress 1950s (optional), Stalls, face painting, Music & song, A chorus of choirs, Dance demonstrations, Drama performances, Magic - the sublime Bernie, Focus Fit Kidz, Evening Barn Dance organised by The Lions Club., GRAND FINALE - Fireworks and lighting of the Bonfire Beacon!

There was also a ticketed event available on the Broadway featuring music from 6 decades.

What Burgess Hill had to offer:
St Johns Park, 2pm-10:30pm ---- All Day BBQ, Junior Sports, Blues Band, Sing-a-long with Julie Hall, Fancy Dress, Lighting of the Beacon. Here's a link to the very vague poster

How things actually panned out in Burgess Hill :
Families turned up at 2pm and were asking 'When is it starting?' They were shocked to learn that what they saw was all they were getting!

On offer were a bouncy castle and another inflatable game. The 'Junior Sports' consisted of a cricket set. There were two ice cream sellers, a barbecue excellently run by the Burgess Hill Rugby Club and the Cricket Club were serving beer from their bar. The majority of the public were with their children in the play park. Some older people were sitting on the grass by the cricket pavillion, no real sign of any significant picnics though.

There was something missing, ah yes, the live music that people had been expecting. Well, it turned out that the Crossroads band and Julie Hall were not performing until much later in the day. How about a DJ to keep things ticking over? Play some tunes to help create an atmosphere. For that to happen there needed to have been a P.A System. The council didn't think to organise one. There was quite the scramble later in the evening when Julie Hall came to sing. SHAMBLES.

And what about the fancy dress competition that the council seem OBSESSED on holding at every event (even though only a handful of people ever enter) Well, according to a source...
"Two girls and a boy turned up for 7.00pm to be judged. Needless to say all won prizes and the competition finished at 7.02 with photos duly taken. But wait..... what's this? Another entrant arrives at 7.03 (another girl). Re-open the competitition and take another photo. "
Another flop and proves that the council need to ditch this aged concept or at least publicise what you can win for entering!

This leads us on to....

The Lighting Of The Beacon
Following some absolutely superb signing by Julie Hall, people gathered round the Jubilee Beacon. The Beacon had apparently been advertised to be lit at 10:30. Ahead of schedule, and with the M.C for the lighting ceremony asking for 'Publicity' Pru Moore's permission, the Beacon was lit before it was even ten-past the hour. This resulted in some members of the public missing it. Before the Beacon was lit, Pru Moore managed to get herself some attention by entering the taped off area, followed by our unelected Mayor Chris Thomas-Atkin. He successfully managed to bring the mood right down with a most boring, uninspiring speech that seemed to go on forever. The M.C probably regretted handing him the microphone! Let us not forget the Jubilee Beacon relocation saga prior to the event. How much did that cost us? One failure after another.

Who is to blame for this rubbish event?

Firstly, those not to blame are the non members of the council that volunteered on the day. Well done on doing your bit for the community. You deserve a big pat on the back.

Now, for those councillors involved in the event, shame on you. How could you oversee such a shambles of an event? Surely in the lead up to the event you saw what Haywards Heath were organising and thought to yourselves "oh sh*t!!!!!!!!!!!!!" ? For example why did they have fireworks and we didn't?

The last published annual return of the council in 2011 showed that they had over £300k in reserve. Why was this not dipped into more significantly to put on an event befitting of the occasion?

The District Council also have grants available for such events. Did they fund any of it or did you just not think to ask?

Here's a crazy idea, if the council were not up to the job why not hire an event planner? The public would have understood the expenditure if it resulted in an event to remember.

Could it be that some of the organisers are just deluded and like to boast about what they were involved in, thinking it will boost their own standing in the community?

If you ignore what Haywards Heath had to offer and just analyse the Burgess Hill event there were many errors.

No P.A system organised. No music in the afternoon resulting in an event void of atmosphere. The 'junior sports' consisting of a cricket set. The fancy dress competition flop (as always) A very vague poster advertising the event. The early lighting of the Beacon causing people to miss it.

In many cases, if families knew what a shambles the organisers of this event were going to make of it, they'd have made alternative plans.

The Mayor
Should the blame lay firmly at the feet of our Mayor? The town council controversially installed a mayor last year without asking our opinion let alone allowing us to choose who the Mayor would be. The Mayor's role is to concentrate on promoting Burgess Hill. Well, quite frankly our 'first citizen' should go do one!

Public Reaction So Far:
"We went at 3pm and there was nothing, just a VERY VERY busy park, with an ice-cream van, the BBQ and a packed out couple of inflatables"

"According to the town council it (the Jubilee Beacon) was meant to be lit at 10:30 - we arrived at 10:10 and it had been lit and everyone was going home. Well done Burgess Hill Town Council !!! You have excelled yourselves yet again!! Tossers"

"We went down and were disappointed with what had been put on - although I was of the understanding there was more going on in the evening (although not 100% sure what). It's a shame, we used to have brilliant community events in Burgess Hill years ago!"

"What happened to the singers and bands? thouht they were going to be there all day, I came away disappointed and wet. I shall not be going back for the 'lighting of the beacon' either!!"

"It's been obvious for years the council doesn't have a clue what a good event involves. You should try organizing one with them like I have on a few occasions. It's hopeless!"

"Rubbish!!! Waste of time"

"A poor attempt"

"Hugely disappointed with today's Jubilee "party" in Burgess Hill"

"Haywards Heath was buzzing.....all looked very exciting!!"

"I only seem to find out about events just before they happen, as there seems to be no publicity. Other towns/villages advertise their events on signs by the side of the roads etc but if it wasn't for Connell's estate agents, there wouldn't be any signs about next week's "Town Day" and I've only seen one sign for the BH bike ride. Where do the town council spend their marketing/PR budget? Do they have a marketing/PR budget?"

"Utter shambles. They couldnt even cut the grass or clear the dog shit up. Laughing stock"

"Mid Sussex council spend all the money into H-HTH if want good events, roads, parks,shops etc you best move there. B- Hill is turning into Worthing- not-by the - sea. lol"

"I predict the Town Council's most sycophantic fan, the Mid Sussex Times, will still describe this event a huge success and feature the obligatory photos of our Mayor and Pru Moore"

Our council do not have a clue. EPIC FAIL.

Did you find this news story useful? Please share it with your friends.

Got an opinion on this story? Leave a comment below.....
What did you think of the Jubilee picnic? Did it fail to meet your expectations? Should the Council review who organises the events going forward? Why are Haywards Heath Town Council able to get it so right and our council can't? Why did the council install a Mayor if he can't fulfill his role of promoting the town?

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