BRIDPORT Carnival’s iconic torchlight procession looks set to be saved.

The good news comes after a 'very positive' meeting yesterday to discuss the procession taking place as it had done prior to the pandemic.

Highways chiefs had previously said they were no longer prepared to close the A35 which the procession crosses due to safety concerns.

Event organisers met with representatives from National Highways - which looks after the A35 - Bridport Town Council, Dorset Council and West Dorset MP Chris Loder, and discussed a 'plan of action'.

Mr Loder said afterwards the procession 'will likely be saved this year' - although there are some details to sort out.

Following the 2019 event, the Bridport Carnival Committee was informed by National Highways that it was not prepared to close the A35 at the Crown Roundabout for the half an hour it takes the procession to cross the road at future events.

Supporters are still pursuing a road closure, but still need to complete the relevant paperwork required to do so and find a contractor which will facilitate the closure.

“The outcome of the meeting was optimistic and certainly positive,” said Bridport Carnival Committee chairman Graham Davies.

“From where we are now compared to where we were three years ago is a big difference, having been worried about it for three years.”

The procession is vital to the carnival as that is where the majority of funding comes from and although the carnival may have taken place without it, it would have ‘not been the same’, Mr Davies said.

MP Mr Loder said he understands the importance the event has on the town and had been working alongside organisers to ensure it can go ahead.

He said: “I have been clear from the offset that Bridport’s torchlight procession must not be shut down. It is integral to Bridport’s much-loved carnival and is of huge cultural value to the town.

“We have been able to achieve a plan of action, with only one hurdle to to jump over now to reply to the previous road support contractor.

“National Highways has now also confirmed that there is now no other issue that would stop the torchlight procession from a road traffic order being granted to facilitate the procession continuing over the Crown Roundabout to West Bay.”

He added: "I expect a final confirmation in the next few weeks that the Bridport Carnival Committee will have the all clear to fully organise the procession on Sunday 21 August 2022."

Ben Hampson, Route Manager for National Highways, said: “We understand the importance of Bridport’s traditional torchlight procession and we have held productive conversations with the event organisers, Dorset Council and Chris Loder MP on how this year’s event can safely and conveniently take place. We look forward to working with them on this in the future.”