The meeting of Aycliffe Town Council’s Recreation Committee descended into utter chaos on Wednesday night as councillors bizarrely put four different ideas forward for the Santa Tours.
Around 30 members of the public turned up for what turned out to be a heated committee meeting.
But, despite revealing earlier on Wednesday that police chiefs had OK’d the traditional Santa Tours in their current format – overturning their original idea to scrap the tours in their current format – the council has now appeared to do ANOTHER U-turn.
After being told by Durham Constabulary chief constable Mike Barton that the tours were perfectly legal, Recreation Committee chairman Jed Hillary and council leader Bob Fleming tried to bamboozle the public with a series of mixed messages.
But it didn’t wash with neither the public gallery, nor some of the other councillors.
Eventually, it was decided that the events sub-committee will meet again to discuss the matter before the next full council meeting on October 31.
During the meeting, Cllr John Clare said: “What I’ve been hearing tonight, quite bluntly, are mixed messages.
“I’ve been told they’re continuing, but we’re just looking at the finer detail. I’ve been told no change in the current format of the Santa Tours – you said that yourself, chairman.
“Then I’ve been told it’s going to be routes suggested by the councillors. Then it was made quite clear the routes were going to be designed by the officers.
“Then Cllr Fleming said ‘if you don’t want to have stopping places, we will consider that’.
“So my feeling is that there is still a considerable degree of uncertainty about what this council intends to do.
“There are two separate issues. The first one is the law and health and safety – in my opinion, that has been absolutely resolved, and we don’t need to mention it again.
“The second thing is, however, where those lorries are going to go and how they’re going to do it. That hasn’t been resolved at all tonight and we haven’t been given a clear account.
“If we’re waiting for the events sub-committee to wait until November, we’ll find in November that we’re lumbered with that decision and that it won’t have the time to discuss some of the other things promised tonight.
“If we’re going to approve these minutes, if we’re going to take into account views made by the public tonight, then the events sub-committee needs to meet a good deal sooner than the middle of November.
“I trust the events sub-committee will keep on the promises it has made tonight.”
Events sub-committee chairman Malcolm Iveson agreed the group should meet within days to discuss the matter again, while Cllr Hillary promised members of the public that their ideas and concerns would be listened to.