York Racecourse has abandoned plans to host a trial event with a large crowd, after a city MP labelled the project ‘deeply disturbing’.
It was due to allow 17,000 spectators to attend the Dante Festival next month – one of a series of pilot sporting and cultural events organised with the government’s agreement to provide data to inform the reopening process.
On Thursday, Rachael Maskell told the House of Commons that “the reopening of the economy is something that we all welcome”.
But the York Central Labour MP added: “However, to leap from this to the mass gatherings at sporting event trials is deeply disturbing on the terms that they are being proposed – not least at York Racecourse.
“And of course we have new variants now creeping into (the) community of Covid-19.
“So will the Leader of the House take up my concerns with Cabinet colleagues, of which I will write to him, and will he arrange for an opportunity for us to debate this in the House, and for all MPs impacted by these decisions to meet with the Secretary of State and his officials in order to discuss our concerns?”
Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg replied: “(Ms Maskell) is raising concerns that I think many members have. There was obviously an opportunity to debate them immediately before the recess with the continuation of the Act.”
He added: “Obviously the Government wants to see unlocking take place and the road map has been set out. But if people have questions they are entitled to raise them, and if they don’t get answers directly, I will do whatever I can to facilitate answers.”
Following her questions, Rachael Maskell received a letter from York Racecourse chief executive and clerk of the course, William Derby, to say the venue had withdrawn from the pilot.
She said it was the right decision. With the emergence of new Covid-19 variants, the risk to York of encouraging such crowds was too high, she said.