Mum forced to cancel children’s donkey party because of ‘ridiculous’ council policy

Charmaine Botes with her daughters Makayla, four, and Brooke, 10 months, in the New Forest
Charmaine Botes with her daughters Makayla, four, and Brooke, 10 months, in the New Forest
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A MOTHER-OF-TWO was left ‘absolutely gutted’ after being told she could not hold a donkey-themed party on a public field.

Charmaine Botes had planned to put on special birthday festivities for her two daughters at Westbrook Park, Waterlooville, on March 10.

But arrangements – which included hosting two donkeys from a local sanctuary – were written off after Havant Borough Council (HBC) said the invite-only soirée could not go ahead on public land.

Disappointed, Mrs Botes is now looking for a new venue to celebrate with her daughters, four-year-old Mikayla and 10-month-old Brooke, as well as their friends and family.

The 33-year-old said: ‘My youngest daughter Brooke turns one in March, but both of my children are obsessed with animals and wildlife.

‘I was really looking forward to introducing her to her first donkey, as she loves her rocking one at home, but I’m absolutely gutted I can’t do that now.’

The party – which would have included the rental of Westbrook Hall, on Tempest Avenue – would have welcomed about 40 adults and 20 children.

But now, after learning of what she calls ‘ridiculous’ HBC policy, Mrs Botes is back at square one.

She said: ‘Because of this ridiculous rule, I’m having to cancel the venue and re-do all the invitations – I’m basically starting over.

‘The park itself doesn’t get very busy and we weren’t even looking to fence it off to other people.

‘But because I approached the council, it feels like I’ve been penalised for doing the right thing.

‘I could have just gone ahead with the party and they would’ve been none the wiser.’

The donkeys once booked for the party belong to the Hayling Island Donkey Sanctuary.

Reflecting on Mrs Botes’ change of plans, founders Paul and Tracy Hunt said: ‘We attend many events across the area and our donkeys prove to be very popular with young and old.

‘It is such a shame for Charmaine and her little ones – we appreciate their support through using our services.’

Explaining why the fixture could not go ahead, executive director of Havant Borough Council, James Hassett, said: ‘We do not give consent to activities or functions which exclude access to members of the general public.

‘Events such as fetes, circuses and other open public events go through a formal licence application process to ensure they meet safety requirements.

‘As part of this, those holding the event need to possess adequate public liability indemnity insurance cover.’