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Red faces as Town Hall backtracks on move to shelve Mela festival

PUBLISHED: 18:03 13 March 2008 | UPDATED: 13:07 05 October 2010

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EMBARRASSED council chiefs have been forced into a humiliating U-turn by admitting that this year's Baishaki Mela celebration may still take place in London's East End after all, just four days after sending the Advertiser a statement that Europe's biggest Bangladeshi New Year celebration would not go ahead in May ""for safety reasons.

By Ted Jeory

EMBARRASSED council chiefs have been forced into a humiliating U-turn by admitting that this year's Baishaki Mela celebration may still take place in London's East End after all.

Just four days after sending the Advertiser a statement that Europe's biggest Bangladeshi New Year festival would not go ahead in May "for safety reasons," Tower Hamlets council today (Thurs) backtracked and said it had 'made a mistake.'

The authority's climb-down came amid allegations that council leaders had been paralysed into indecision over which two politically-powerful bidders to pick to run the event.

The suggestion had been that choosing one over the other could have had damaging consequences for the ruling Labour group.

Instead, it is believed that Town Hall bosses are blaming the mix-up on a press release that stated the Mela had been scrapped and was circulated before it had been approved.

Nonetheless, it took council leaders four days and a wave of public anger to discover the error.

The two rival bidders have been invited to resubmit their applications to determine the hosts for the show in Weavers Fields in Bethnal Green, the Town Hall said.

Their spokeswoman said: "Despite the council's best endeavours to achieve a submission from one organisation representative of the whole community, two organisations submitted applications on February 11 to run the Mela.

"Unfortunately neither of the applications was complete.

"Both organisations were advised of this in early March and they now have the opportunity to substantially improve their applications as they progress through the licensing process.

"The council is keeping the situation under review and will do its utmost to ensure that the Mela takes place in 2008."

ted.jeory@archant.co.uk

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