March madness (in April): Now elf 'n' safety bans 400-yard Easter paradeBy Nick Fagge
15th April 2011
Every year the Christians from different churches get together to march a 400-yard route to celebrate .
But this year their parade has been banned – because it breaches health and safety laws.
Church leaders say town hall bureaucrats are refusing Christians rights routinely afforded to minority groups, and have vowed to defy them.
On the march: Father Hugh MacKenzie leads a previous parade
Officials said they banned the procession because they were contacted too late to carry out a ‘consultation’ to close the roads.
Father Hugh MacKenzie, of , said: ‘The rights of Christians are being overlooked in favour of the rights of Islamic groups and gay rights organisations.
‘One does wonder whether if it was a homosexual rights or Islamic group the council would have been more flexible, as it doesn’t seem like rocket science to permit us to walk 400 metres.
‘The rights of Christians are just not respected in Britain.’
Defiant: Father Hugh MacKenzie
Brent Council hosts a Diwali street celebration every year. Last November it boasted it had held the biggest Diwali event in the country, after more than 60,000 people turned out.
And in July last year the council appealed to the Muslim community to notify it of any Eid events so it could promote them free of charge.
But it did not do the same for other religious festivals.
Last night former Home Office minister – and devout Christian – Ann Widdecombe said: ‘Don’t Brent Council know about Easter? These processions will be taking place all over the country on Good Friday, it’s part of our tradition.
‘It’s ridiculous and petty that a group cannot walk 400 yards. Why should they need special permission to do that?’
Every Easter for 13 years, about 200 worshippers from four churches – the New Testament Church of God, St Andrew’s , St Mary Magdalen and Willesden Green Baptist Church – have marched before celebrating communion together.
Father MacKenzie said: ‘It is a long-standing tradition in the area. It is a chance for us to get together.
‘The idea of tolerating the major religions, particularly the Christian religion which has been at the heart of our civilisation, and our right to express ourselves in this moderate way is a very basic aspect of religious freedom.’
Last night Brent Council told the worshippers to walk on the pavement.
A spokesman added: ‘Brent Council was not contacted about the march until around a week ago.
‘There is a strict legal procedure we have to follow to issue a traffic order closing roads so people can march in the highway, which includes advertising and consultation, and this takes about five weeks.
‘We are very sorry to say there is now not enough time for us to legally facilitate this march.’
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1377072/Health-safety-bans-400-yard-Easter-parade.html#ixzz1JY9eolbE