By Eirian Jane Prosser.

OXFORD MAIL readers have been divided over whether St Giles Fair should have been cancelled this year.

On Tuesday we reported that local showman William Hebborn believed the fair could have taken place safely this year by being 'a lot smaller'.

The historic street fair was cancelled last month by its new controllers at the Showmen's Guild of Great Britain due to fears about safety amid the coronavirus pandemic.

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One reader, Laura Rogers, commented on Facebook: "I totally agree with it being cancelled. Hardly an essential, and nobody should risk lives for a few funfair rides."

Another reader, going by the name Magnificent Spam agreed with Ms Rogers, commented on The Oxford Mail website: “How many people would you get on a ride every hour if you had to thoroughly wipe down every harness?

“Various labs and offices are having their toilets, handrails and kitchens cleaned four times per day.”


William Hebborn of Hebborn's Amusements, who said the fair should have gone ahead. Picture: Fran Way

But other readers hit back, saying the fair should have taken place.

Neil Hornblow added on Facebook: “I totally agree. I think it’s a disgrace to not have a traditional fair that has been in Oxford all my life.”

Ken Balmes posted to Facebook: “If Thorpe Park and Alton Towers are cashing out since restrictions were lifted why can’t we have this for a couple of days?”

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Another reader, Jill Campbell, made a similar point on Facebook: “Merlin Entertainment have all there theme parks open so why not St Giles Fair. What’s the difference?”

Some empathised with Mr Hebborn’s loss of income but believed that, ultimately, safety should come first.

One user on The Oxford Mail webpage, IRDGAS, said: “I empathise with his situation, however I agree that this year it was the right decision.


“Bringing a large mass of people to the city centre is a recipe for disaster, you are relying on the great British public behaving and they have shown themselves lacking on all counts.

“Tough for all concerned but the right call.”

Terri Pearce agreed on Facebook, saying: “Caution now will ultimately make life less awful for us all in the long run.”

Several readers pointed out, however, that if other outdoor events, such as markets and car boot sales could take place, there was no reason why St Giles couldn’t take place.

Victoria Howkins said on Facebook: “I agree they should not have cancelled the St Giles Fair.

Read the original story with Mr Hebborn's comments here

"If they want to do that they should cancel all events including markets, car boot sales, fun fairs, fire work displays, until it’s safe.

“Make it equitable for everyone! The problem is here people are taking the rules into their own hands!”

David Collins, however, called for everyone on Facebook to look at the whole picture: “It is sad not to have the funfair but we will be going next year.

“The one thing I have learnt from Covid is how I took life for granted. So let's wait and look forward and accept that it is cancelled.”