EVESHAM’S popular Mop fair finally has a new home after council chiefs approved plans to bring it into the heart of Evesham, the Observer can reveal.
Under the ambitious plans, which will take effect from this September, the High Street, stretching from Merstow Green all the way to Oat Street, will be partially closed to make way for the annual fair which is attended by thousands of Evesham residents.
Its new home will see rides housed in the Merstow Green Car Park, the Market Place and the amenity area along the High Street.
Traffic during the three and half day closure would then be re-routed in the same way it was when the Abbey Bridge was being replaced, with vehicles able to drive down Oat Street to cross the Workman Bridge.
Drivers will still be able to travel northbound over the bridge and up through the High Street whilst the Mop takes place.
Highways chiefs at Worcestershire County Council have thrown their support behind the plans.
As the Observer has previously reported, the Mop has been in search of a new home since it was confirmed ride operators would be unable to use the Old Brewery Car Park due to the Fire Station being knocked down to make way for the Waitrose store.
Talks first began at the start of 2016 and after 17 months of discussions the plans to bring the Mop into the heart of town were approved by councillors on Evesham Town Council on Monday.
However, not all councillors were supportive of the plans. Coun Jim Bullman said: “I’m just amazed really. Here we are in the 21st century and we’re letting a decree from hundreds of years ago still ruin our lives.
“Things have moved on. Is it not more practical to put it on one of the parks as opposed to disrupting the town in this way?”
In response, the Mayor of Evesham, Coun Richard Jones said: “Yes it’s an ancient charter which says it has to be on the High Street, but it’s a huge draw for Evesham. What one person doesn’t like there are probably ten more people who do like it.”
Coun Alan Booth, who has been involved in the discussions, said: “I’ve sat in all these meetings and this is probably the best it can get.
“The one thing that did come out of this proposal is the direction of the traffic flow. A lot of people didn’t want to see it return to what it was. The same system will be put in place as it was during the Abbey Bridge closure, with the exception northbound traffic will be allowed through the town.
“If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work and we can change it in the future. This is something we’ve got to agree on – we can’t just throw it to the wind.”
Mop organiser, Edward Danter, said: “The Mop will be a lot better in the heart of Evesham. It will definitely give the event a boost.
“I’ve got a lot of work to do now to make it all work. I really believe and hope its going to be a great success