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45 f


each and every one of us who give our time freely to it. And each time we go out and dance, and especially on Easter Saturday, we are paying homage to the past men who danced this tradition and upheld it, and we’re very proud to do so.”


P


ride is a word that easily springs to mind when consid- ering both the dancers’ attitude to the tradition, and the local response to the Coconutters. The local Rosso Bus company has just emblazoned one of its buses with the name and pictures of the Coconutters. And in the


town centre, there’s the Nutters’ Garden – part of the local her- itage trail, with an information board and images of the dancers. On Easter Saturday, local organisations and businesses take full opportunity of the influx of visitors and the festive atmosphere, with special markets, stalls in the town centre and children’s events, while the volunteer-staffed Royal Court Theatre and natu- ral history museum are open to visitors.


That pride came to the fore a couple of years ago when the whole Easter Saturday tradition was threatened by a combination of police and county council restrictions. With recent austerity mea- sures, the police insisted either that they were paid to manage the traffic, or that stewards be professionally (and expensively) trained, or that traffic control be outsourced to a specialist company. With- out one of these options, the county council threatened to refuse the dancers a licence to perform. It’s a problem that other street events up and down the country are also facing.


The matter has been resolved – for the time being – thanks to the county councillors from Bacup using their discretionary funds to pay for a traffic management company. But before this happened, there were meetings, support from local businesses, publicans and local Bacupians, and even a national petition. As dancer Neville Earn- shaw says, “The county council don’t appreciate what a following the Nutters have. They take us on, and they lose!”


www.coconutters.co.uk Dick Shufflebottom & Ronnie Searle F


Photo: © Judith Burrows


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