Disgruntled residents have hit out over the controversial decision to cancel the Kimberley Pram Race.
Kimberley Town Council has pulled the plug after it received no entries.
But locals who were previously involved in staging the attraction blame a decision to scale it down to something that was ‘unrecognisable’.
Earlier this year, the council and police voiced concern over on-street boozing at the race, which has run for 34 years in July and has raised £100,000 for charity.
Kimberley Town Council changed the day-long event to a half-hour parade scheduled for this Sunday, saying police could no longer watch over it.
But this week councillors announced it had not attracted a single entry — and axed it completely.
Ian Campbell, who used to be on the council events committee, said people were turned off and the race had been tarred with an unfair reputation over alcohol.
“The council was trying to jump on the back of the kudos of the pram race for an event that wasn’t the pram race. It was a wolf in sheep’s clothing,” he said.
Mr Campbell refuted any concerns over alcohol-fuelled anti-social behaviour.
He said: “It was about dressing up, having a bit of fun and having a few beers.
“The council just has a downer on people who enjoy having a drink. There’s nothing wrong with having a few beers. Kimberley is traditionally a brewery town. They took the fun it of it.”
Roy Plumb, who used to be council chairman, said he was disappointed it was not going ahead. “It’s the scaling down of it and the fact that the social aspect has been lost,” he said.
He added that the idea of there being alcohol problems had ‘scared’ people away.
“I never saw any evidence of drunken behaviour whatsoever,” he added.
Mr Plumb, who has lived in Kimberley all his life, went on to claim the pram race was not promoted enough. He added that previously organisers would ‘whip up enthusiasm’ at pubs and businesses.
He also voiced concerns about scheduling it for early on a Sunday morning in September.
But town council chairman Jim McDonald stuck by the decision.
“The council was very keen to progress the pram race, albeit in a different shape, and we worked very hard on it. We used the press, tv, social media, and put leaflets through doors, libraries and businesses throughout Kimberley.
“This council was committed to working as hard as it needed to make it a success. But in the absence of any applicants we took the right decision. I understand traditionalists but we have to take a pragmatic approach.”
Cllr McDonald said he would ‘consult the community’ regarding next year’s event.
A defiant Mr Campbell, angry over the scaling down of the event, organised his own mini-pram race in July.
Thirty people took part and raised £60 for charity. The main pram was emblazoned with the message ‘RIP pram race’.