Popular community stalwart Dancing Ken has been forced to downsize his annual fundraising plans due the council charging him almost £50 in administration fees.
For the past 20 years, dancing Ken Hanks has been putting on his Santa suit and carting around his shopping trolley, which is decorated to look like a sleigh, in order to raise money for the Cheltenham Animal Shelter. However, this year Cheltenham Borough Council has imposed a £46 administration fee for a licence for the shopping cart.
Ken, 76, has raised over £1 million for charities throughout his life and has called the decision “crazy”. The grandad-of-five usually has festive songs pumping out of a stereo in the trolley, but he now has to carry the stereo and cannot display the noticeboard that he usually uses to promote the work of the charity he is supporting.
He said: “I would rather that £46 go to the animal shelter, so I am swapping the trolley for a sandwich board this year. I was a bit annoyed because the council said it could be an obstruction to the highway, but we live in a politically correct world. Everyone thinks it is crazy and makes no sense, but the law is the law and I have got to abide by it. I guess I am lucky they are letting me collect for the charity.”
Ken raises money for the Cheltenham Animal Shelter every year to ensure that animals are not forgotten over the festive period.
Community protection manager at Cheltenham Borough Council, Trevor Gladding, justified the council’s decision and said that “placing any object on the pavement required consent under the Highways Act”. The council has halved the fees for charities.
He added: “An object in the highway can cause an obstruction, particularly to wheelchair users, and this is why it is a legal requirement to have consent. If we had known Ken was unhappy we would have discussed the issues and made an arrangement that everyone was happy with.”