MISS Gloucester was turned away from Churchdown’s Winter Wonderland family fun day because organisers didn’t want any mention of the city at the event.
Volunteers worked alongside Churchdown Parish Council to put on the free day out for families, complete with ice rink, Santa’s Grotto, real reindeer and fake snow. But when Miss Gloucester turned up dressed as an elf, wearing her beauty pageant sash and crown, she was told she was not welcome in her official role.
Organisers told the Citizen they wanted no mention of Gloucester, after the city council hiked up the rent paid by the parish council for the park and failed to agree an extension to its lease.
Miss Gloucester, Juliette Crosby, said: “I turned up expecting to help out and collect money for my Beauty With A Purpose charity, but was told I couldn’t take part as I was representing Gloucester.
“I was totally embarrassed. I had told my friends and their children to come along to see me.
“It was humiliating to be told I could not get involved. I have lived in Churchdown all my life and I just wanted to give something back to my community. I’m not interested in politics or any disputes.”
The park is joint owned by Cheltenham Borough Council and Gloucester City Council.
With less than 20 years to run on the current lease agreement, parish councillors are concerned for its long term future. They say they have failed to get reassurance that an extension will be granted. A further application for Fields in Trust status, that would protect the land, has also been turned down.
Pearl Stokes, leader of the parish council said: “We tried to contact Miss Gloucester on Friday to say we thought it was not appropriate for her to attend in a role representing Gloucester, but we could not get hold of her.
“As a parish council, we work hard for Churchdown and this was an event for the people here. It was not supported financially by Gloucester City Council so it wasn’t right that the city was represented. It was a free public event paid for by grants and Churchdown Parish Council. We did not want someone shaking a tin asking for money. There are plenty of causes that need our support in Churchdown. We would welcome Juliette and any other young people from Churchdown to help out as residents with future events.”
Councillor Paul James, leader ofGloucester City Council, said: “The Miss Gloucester competition is neither organised, nor funded by the city council. Miss Gloucester does not represent the council but Gloucester in its wider sense and to exclude her because of something which is nothing to do with her does not seem in the Christmas spirit.”
A city council spokesman said decisions on the park’s future are made jointly with Cheltenham Borough Council and added: “In accordance with the provisions of the lease, rent was increased in 2011 from £3,225 to £3,486 per annum.”