Hastings Jack in the Green organiser speaks about next week’s protest at Parliament

Morris dancers, May Characters bikers and small business owners will be gathering at Parliament on Tuesday July 23 to protest the cancellation of the May Day Bank Holiday 2020.

May Day Protest SUS-190718-130135001
May Day Protest SUS-190718-130135001

Jack in the Green founder Keith Leech says it promises to be the most colourful and musical protest this year.

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Keith said: “May Day has been a holiday in England for many years dating back to Roman times celebrating the start of summer. Since the implementation of the early May (May Day) Bank holiday many traditional customs have moved to that day to enable people to attend without needing to take the day off work, and many annual events have grown up over the weekend. These events have become important to local communities, are a boost to tourism at the start of the season and contribute to community cohesion.

“Such events take months to plan. When the government announced with only 10 months’ notice that the May Day Bank holiday would be cancelled in 2020 to be replaced with a VE day commemoration at the end of the same week it caused dismay amongst organisers of events over that weekend as preparations were already well under way and venues booked. Venues were often unavailable for the following newly proposed bank holiday weekend.

“Organisers and supporters of events that run on that weekend will be getting together on Tuesday 23rd July to protest the cancellation. This is being spearheaded by Morris dancers for whom May Day is a significant and important day in the.

The protest is being organised by the organisers of these events. Myself and Gordon Newton from Rochester. In both towns the annual weekend festival brings in a considerable income to the local economy.

“In Hastings Jack in the Green kick starts the season after a long hard winter. There are Morris dancers, an ancient procession and dancing giants. Alongside this it is the annual biker festival.

Hotels are full and booked years in advance. Around 50 000 visitors pack the streets and an estimated 6 million pounds go into the local economy. “This late cancellation is unacceptable things were booked last year, this is going to cost the town and ourselves a fortune and I expect many businesses to go to the wall. You would think that Greg Clarke (who brought this in) as Business Secretary might have a better idea about how businesses work and long term planning.

“Anybody would think that the government has had its eye off the ball and was preoccupied with something else. You would also think that a Conservative government might actually be concerned about the traditions and customs of this country. We have chosen the day when a new Prime Minister is to be announced to show that there is more to this country and what we do than just Brexit and that our customs and traditions need protection.”

Organisers are keen to point out that they are not concerned about the VE day commemoration which they fully support but the late notice cancellation. They feel that the VE day commemoration should be an extra holiday. Keith Leech said celebrating and morris dancing on VE day would be inappropriate and they would like to commemorate VE day properly. They claim they have support of veterans organisations.

Many large businesses are still unaware of the cancellation. Organisers have been in touch with large sporting events and hotel chains for support only to find that they were unaware.

Hastings MP and Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd fully supports the protest and understands the tremendous cost to the Hastings economy. She will be joining protesters from Hastings at noon at Old Place Yard.