Persistent rainfall has forced Bradford Council to cancel today’s Mela after the venue became heavily waterlogged.
The Council’s events organisers inspected the ground at Peel Park yesterday morning and later announced there was “no option” but to axe the event for safety reasons.
Council officers said the huge infrastructure of the Mela, which consists of stages, marquees, fairground rides and temporary buildings, could be compromised by the soft and shifting ground at the site.
Yesterday, fairground workers were beginning to pack up to leave the site while others, who had yet to arrive, spoke of their disappointment.
Ajit Singh, of Bradford collaborative dance company Kala Sangam, said six artists from as far as London were due to perform newly-commissioned piece Kala Kahani, including storytelling, music and dance.
He said: “It’s a huge shame. The artists had been booked a long time in advance and have turned down other lucrative jobs. We are looking for other opportunities to perform it.
“It’s not only disappointing for the artists, but the audience, who we are sure would have found it very exciting and interactive.”
Council bosses said the inspections revealed pools of standing water in areas including the car park, and advice from the Met Office confirmed there would be continued showers before the event, adding to the already-deluged ground.
There were also concerns that attempts to use the park would severely damage the ground, including community football pitches, and would take several seasons of work to repair.
Phil Barker, the Council’s assistant director of sport and leisure services, said: “This is a real shame because we know the Mela is enjoyed by so many people in the Bradford district and the rest of the country.
“If there was any way we could go ahead with it we would, but we have to be realistic and consider the safety of the public and the effect it would have on the park itself.”
The Mela was last cancelled because of heavy downpours in 2007, when performers had already flown into the UK from India, Pakistan, Africa and continental Europe.
It is not yet clear whether this year’s event will be rescheduled, but no plans are in place to do so.
Mike Cowlam, assistant director of economic development, said he was disappointed to cancel the event but the Council had to be “responsible and consider the dangers”. He added: “We are not prepared to put people’s safety at risk”.
Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, executive member for employment, skills and culture, said: “I am so disappointed that the Mela has had to be cancelled. It is a highlight on our events calendar but the weather has been atrocious over the last few days, leaving us really with no choice.”