An open day at an outdoor wedding venue has had to be rearranged after officials said it could not go ahead on the original date due to coronavirus restrictions.

The Venue at Little Hay

The Venue at Little Hay had planned the event for the Easter Bank Holiday weekend, with appointments for groups of no more than five at any time at the six-acre site.

But organisers The Venue Portfolio and Elite Tents said weeks of planning were torn up two days before when an environmental health official said the open day would not be classed as a “permitted activity”.

Alice Higgins, managing director of The Venue Portfolio who manage the site, said:

“We were devastated and cannot understand the logic behind the legislation.

“When you see images of crowded parks, we believed we had done all that was necessary to make sure that it was a safe and compliant event.

“It has been such a difficult year for the wedding and events industry which is largely made up of small independent businesses and we really just wanted to try to be prepared for bookings when larger weddings and receptions are allowed again.

“As the event did not require a temporary events notice, we did not originally contact the council as we presumed that enforcement of the restrictions was a police matter, not one for environmental health.

“We even had a visit to the site from a PCSO last week as we were starting to set up who was impressed with the measures, we had taken.

“We will certainly ensure that we will open dialogue with the council for all future events as early as possible.”

Alice Higgins, The Venue Portfolio

The open day has now been rescheduled for 17th and 18th April.

Jacquie Hale, director of Elite Tents, said the cancellation had been the latest blow for her business:

“In 2020 we earned just 7% of our normal revenue.

“A grant application was rejected because they believed we are simply a tent supplier and our property in Aldridge is just a storage facility.

“In other words, the powers-that-be maintain that we are not hospitality so won’t waive our rates, but apparently when it comes to trying to showing our tents to couples in a large open field we are holding an illegal event.”

Jacquie Hale, Elite Tents

A spokesperson for Lichfield District Council said the event had to be cancelled in line with national guidelines.

“In agreement with the police and Staffordshire County Council, we confirmed the Elite Tents open day could not go ahead.

“This is because it would have involved restricted businesses that should not be offering goods for sale or hire according to the national health protection regulations.

“No concerns were raised about the planning of the event, it was simply that the businesses were not permitted to operate within Step 1 of the roadmap.

“We understand the open day has been rescheduled for when England should be in Step 2 and businesses of this kind will be able to operate again, and we hope it is a great success.”

Lichfield District Council spokesperson

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