IT is described as a “low-key” stroll through a Hampshire village, as churchgoers celebrate one of the most important dates in the Christian calendar.
Led by a donkey, families have walked through the centre of Hamble every Palm Sunday to commemorate Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem in the last week of his life.
But red tape has now put an end to St Andrew’s Church’s annual procession – with council bosses saying road closures, insurance and risk assessments are needed.
Organisers say they have been forced to cancel the event, due to take place tomorrow, amid fears they could face legal action if the procession went ahead and there was a problem.
Vice-chairman of the church’s council, Helen Griffiths, said those taking part in the procession were on the road for around five minutes, with marshals to warn traffic.
She said: “It’s no different than a coach being unloaded in Hamble and 30 or 40 people getting off in the square and just walking down to the quay. The fact that we have done it for ten years with no problems seems to make no difference.
“It’s been blown out of proportion – it’s a sledgehammer to crack a nut.
This is an important festival.”
The event, which usually attracts between 30 and 60 people, has been running for ten years without any objections – even though the church has consistently informed Hamble Parish Council about it.
But Eastleigh Borough Council has now asked the church to “reconsider”
the procession – saying safety issues have been raised by both the police and council departments.