OSWESTRY Town Council has said hot air balloonists will be welcome to take off from sites it owns over the August bank holiday weekend, after this year’s balloon carnival was called off.

Town councillors earlier this week rejected a proposal to spend £7,000 on a scaled-back event, with the festival in Cae Glas Park not possible due to social distancing rules.

At a meeting with carnival organisers and representatives from Nightingale House, the charity which benefits from the event, last week, it had been proposed that a ‘socially-distanced’ carnival could go ahead.

A report to the town council said it would include four balloon launches over the Saturday and Sunday, with a pre-recorded nightglow and digital flyovers also incorporated.

But members said they could not justify spending the money on an event that would not have the same benefits for Oswestry than the full carnival brings.

The town council has now clarified that the four balloon launches would have seen around 30 balloons in total take to the skies, and that the £7,000 budget was mostly to cover the cost of the balloon gas, which would not be spent if the event was called off due to weather conditions.

The mayor of Oswestry, Councillor Duncan Kerr, said: “The council recognises that this is a very a successful event which has considerable benefits for the town of Oswestry.

“The two carnivals held in Cae Glas Park have been extremely popular and have been delivered by a successful and valued partnership.

“It was the decision of the council that it couldn’t invest the potential £7,000 in the event in 2020 as it felt that a revised socially distancing version did not provide adequate benefits when balanced against the risks and potential costs.

“The council has offered to provide sites for balloonists to fly from on the Bank Holiday Weekend should they wish to subject to the necessary health and safety measures.

“The council recognise the significant work that all partners put into the carnival and thank them for putting the proposal forward at the seminar.”