Warwick District Council want to end the Carnival Funfair in the Abbey Fields

(Posted 12th March 2024)

(Photo from Nub News, 28th February 2024)

On 20th February 2024, the Kenilworth Carnival Facebook page announced:

Kenilworth Carnival needs around £12,000 to go ahead this year. And with a unanimous vote from The Council the Fair is being refused permission to the land.”

It is the latter point that is the subject of this article. The Carnival Committee explained:

“The reasons for this relate primarily to the unsuitability of the current site at Abbey Fields: The event takes place in an area, which is prone to flooding, and the ground is damaged by the funfair rides. More importantly, there is impact on, and potential damage to, the trees on the site. This is in breach of our parks protocol developed by the Green Spaces Team. In view of the continued growth of the trees, and the scale of the event (which has also grown over the years), the funfair has now outgrown this site”.


Kenilworth Nub News reported:

The local authority said its events and green spaces teams have been “assessing the impact of the funfair”, on the fields for the “past couple of years” in terms of the “damage being caused to both the trees and the ground beneath”.

“We fully understand the disappointment of both the carnival organisers and local residents that we are no longer able to hold the funfair on Abbey Fields particularly as the event is such a long-held tradition for the town of Kenilworth,” Cllr Ella Billiald portfolio holder for arts and economy said in the statement.

“When the fete and funfair started around 70 years ago, it was on a much smaller scale and the trees surrounding the park weren’t as large and mature. In recent times the number of rides and stalls has increased as has the volume of vehicles and visitors on the site. The impact of this combined with the effects of climate change with spells of very dry and wet weather has meant we have now reached a tipping point in terms of the stress and potential damage to tree root plates. 

This means that if the funfair was allowed to go ahead, we would be in the situation of breaching our own guidelines for the management and care of Abbey Fields, which is an ancient monument that the council has a duty to protect.”

(The statement is historically incorrect; the fair started almost a century ago, not 70 years.)

Kenilworth NubNews report


About a week after the story broke, it was announced that negotiations were recommencing, potentially to find a new location for the Funfair.

On Saturday 9th March 2024 the Kenilworth Green Party posted this on their Facebook page:

Message from John Watson, chair of Kenilworth Greens 
“Many residents are asking us what is going on with the annual Kenilworth Carnival and Funfair.
Our understanding is that Warwick District Council continues to support the Carnival. There is, however, an issue, not with the Carnival, but with the Funfair.
Council officers have expressed concerns about the detrimental impact future funfairs may have on Abbey Fields, if operated on the current site. Specifically, they note that regular incidents of flooding have reduced the viability of the ground, and that recent tree growth has restricted usability.
After some initial difficulties, we understand that more positive discussions took place last Friday between the Council, Carnival, and the Funfair representatives.
Whilst these haven’t yet resulted in a firm alternative proposal which lets the Funfair go ahead this year, we are optimistic a sensible solution can be found. We will be working with all parties towards this aim.”


There are a number of documents that relate to the decision:

The 258 page Abbey Fields Management Plan, compiled by an outside contractor over a period of three years, states on page 234:



Warwick District Council also have an events manual from which these relevant extracts are taken:

PDF of the above

WDC Events Manual link


The WDC Greenspace Strategy, from which the ‘protocol’ is taken, was assembled in 2012 and intended to end, or be revised in 2026. It includes:

“Parks and Gardens Accessible, high quality opportunities for informal recreation and community events.” The funfair is clearly a community event, and so WDC’s Green Policy makes allowance for its provision.

The Green Spaces Strategy of 2012 can be downloaded via this link:  WDC Green Spaces Strategy



There are of course many questions that need answering to justify this stance, including:

Why has no evidence been produced that back up the claims?

As this strategy has been in place since 2012, why has it taken over a decade for this problem to materialise?

A new strategy is due in 2026, is this connected to making this decision now? What alterations to the strategy are likely?

If the fair is being banned due to ‘potential’ damage, it would suggest that there is no ‘actual’; this means that despite its 85 or so visits the fair has done no harm. Why is the funfair now seen as such a threat when in the past it clearly hasn’t been?

Where did the information come from that the fair was smaller 100, or even 70, years ago? Or was it just a guess, or assumption?

What else may be lurking in the pages of strategy and management plans that may one day be used to end other events and traditions?