FANS of the Great Harwood Pram Race are threatening an unofficial event next year after the decision was taken by organisers and the police to ban it.
More than 440 people have formed a group on social network site Facebook in support of the charity fancy dress race, which raises money for the Lancashire Fire and Rescue Services Benevolent Fund.
The decision was taken to cancel the nine-year tradition after a series of drink-fuelled incidents which resulted in eight arrests, five people being served with notices to leave the town and criminal damage.
Incidents on the day included:
l A 35-year-old man was hit on the head by a bottle in the Walmesley pub, on Queen Street, Great Harwood, at around 7.30pm. He was treated at the scene by paramedics.
l A man receiving severe injuries to his finger at the Lomax Arms on Blackburn Road at around 8pm. No ambulance was required.
l A large fight breaking out on Game Street. Paramedics took an unconscious 17-year-old man to Blackburn Royal Infirmary at around 6.30pm.
l An ambulance was called after a 20-year-old man broke his leg outside NatWest on Towngate at around 7.30pm.
In response to last week’s Star Letter in the Observer, written by Jim Oldcorn, who likened Great Harwood to Afghanistan, there has been a flurry of comments posted on Facebook.
Kirsty Sharples, who is leading the revolt, wrote: "I participate in this event every year, as do many of Great Harwood and surrounding area’s residents. It is not the participants of the race that cause trouble and the pubs that take part are not at fault either."
Sergeant Stuart Banks of Great Harwood Police admitted the decision had been met with mixed reactions.
He said: "The police were called out a number of times on the night to incidents of drunken and rowdy behaviour.
"The people who genuinely raised money and enjoyed themselves had expressed that they are disappointed and I share that disappointment but there are people that have welcomed the fact that it will not take place again. The whole scenario is a bit of a shame. We’ve had a mixed response to the decision."
Heather Owen, landlady at the Duke of Wellington and organiser of the event, said: "Most people are disappointed but it’s a decision we have taken and have to stick by.
"The whole event has been spoilt by a few mindless people."