Doncaster Mayor reluctantly supports fans at St Leger - but only if 10 public health tests are met
Doncaster mayor Ros Jones has said the council will only support fans being allowed at the St Leger Festival if 10 ‘public health requirements’ are met.
The mayor, who initially said hosting the event with a reduced capacity was ‘too great of a risk’ in efforts to tackle Covid-19, said allowing fans was a ‘Government-imposed’ decision and the council had no say in the matter.
But it is understood council bosses will ultimately have the final say whether fans will be allowed into Doncaster Racecourse from September 9 when it kicks off.
The annual event, which is usually attended by thousands of horse racing fans, will allow 3,640 general admissions on the Wednesday, rising to 6,202 for the following three days.
Opposition councillors criticised the apparent disunity between the mayor and Labour MP for Doncaster Central Dame Rosie Winterton, who said she had actively ‘lobbied’ for fans to attend as part of a pilot.
Doncaster has one of the lowest infection rates per 100,000 people in Yorkshire and the Humber, at 3.2, and the mayor said objecting to Government on current infection rates was ‘not possible’.
The mayor said she instructed director of public health Dr Rupert Suckling and chief executive Damian Allen to work closely with the racecourse management, police, licensing, NHS and businesses to ‘ensure this risk is minimised’.
Some of the 10 tests that need to be met include no surge in cases before the event, the wearing of face masks, adequate transport and the enhanced use of the Test and Trace on site and the use of the NHS app.
The council also want no one to attend from areas already in a local lockdown.
“There is no doubt the St Leger Festival is one of Doncaster’s major events each year. I do not deny its importance both historically and economically,” Mayor Jones said.
“However my concern still stands in that a national Government-imposed event could undermine all of our hard work to date. It is not a decision I support however, this was taken in London and not here and with no extra support or resources – points which I have addressed in a letter to Government ministers.”
She added: “Failing to meet public health requirements as part of event planning and preparation is a valid reason to refuse spectators to an event. This decision can be taken by the director of public health nearer the event start...If however, the 10 public health tests are not met, then spectators will not be permitted and the races could go ahead without them.”
Dame Rosie Winterton MP, added: “I am extremely pleased to hear that the council is working closely with the racecourse management to ensure that the St Leger Festival meets the public health tests set by the Council’s Director of Public Health. However, Mayor Ros Jones is absolutely right to say that if the public health tests set are not met then spectators will not be allowed to attend the meeting.”