Organisers voice ‘disappointment’ and ‘surprise’ at decision to shelve 2020 Honiton Gate to Plate

Outdoor food festival Honiton Gate to Plate has been shelved a fortnight after it was announced it would return in August with added Covid safety measures.

Organisers Sarah Milner Simonds and Beverley Milner Simonds have spoken of their ‘disappointment’ over Honiton Town Council’s decision to postpone the event until 2021 – after it was announced on June 17 the outdoor food event would go ahead.

The street market, backed by Honiton Town Council and East Devon District Council, had been set to return in August with a new layout, extra space and safety measures in place to safeguard visitors and traders against the coronavirus.

The organisers said they were ‘surprised’ by the town council’s ruling to halt Honiton Gate to Plate, claiming local business had been ‘grateful’ for the event’s draw in encouraging visitors and trade to the town.

Sarah Milner Simonds, Honiton Gate to Plate organiser, said: “We are disappointed that councillors do not feel confident to proceed with this year’s event, even with the new relaxed social distancing guidance and more businesses reopening.

“We have enjoyed working with district and town council officers and are looking forward to delivering a great event in 2021.”

Co-organiser Beverley Milner Simonds, said: “We have received positive feedback from local businesses who were grateful for a local event in the calendar to look forward to and something that would encourage residents back into their local town.

“We were surprised by the decision given the recent changes to allow pubs to open and easing of lockdown rules.”

COVID-19 precautions put in place by Honiton Gate to Plate organisers included the introduction of a new layout offering more space between trade stands, hand sanitiser stations, extra precautions for producers and a click-and-collect service to reduce waiting time.

Honiton Gate to Plate had been due to celebrate its third year. It will return on August 21, 2021.

An East Devon District Council spokesman said: “Having taken account of the current state of play regarding Covid-19, the consequent risks involved in running an event and also the other events in August that have also been cancelled – Sidmouth Folk Week for example – we understand the decision to postpone the event to next year.

“We’re looking forward to Gate to Plate coming back better and stronger as it is an excellent way of demonstrating all that is great about local food and drink and the need for a green economic recovery.”

Honiton Town Council was approached for comment.

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