A MUCH-LOVED funfair that has returned to the same spot in South Park for 70 years was forced out this year by fee hikes of 110 per cent, the owner has said.

Billy Hebborn, the 36-year-old, fourth-generation owner of the business, was told in a council meeting in January that he could expect a slight increase in rent, but three weeks ago was slapped with the new fees which he decided were unreasonable.

As a result the annual Hebborn Amusements fair was forced to find a new venue at the last minute, and yesterday opened at Cheney School's sports ground, close to South Park.

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He said: “If it hadn’t just happened, I wouldn’t believe it.

"The fairground’s well over 100 years old and it was the council who first invited my great-grandfather to put it on at South Park.

The Oxford Times:

"It’s not that lucrative for us but we do it for the tradition."

The fair will continue to honour a ‘community aspect’ scheme previously agreed with the council where it offers low fares for one day.

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But Mr Hebborn said he was worried for the future adding: “It’s a problem – no one knows we’re here at the Cheney sportsground. We go to Blackbird Leys later on and there’s only council land around there so I’m not sure what we’ll do.”

An Oxford City Council spokesperson said the price to hire parks for fun fairs had been brought in line with hiring the spaces for similar events.

They went on: "This is to make it fairer for everyone who hires our parks.

The Oxford Times:

“Following complaints from residents about the number of vehicles parked in South Park during events, we have also introduced a charge to all event organisers for parking non-essential vehicles in South Park during events.

“This will not affect vehicles that are essential to the operation of events, including ambulances, and vehicles carrying fun fair rides and power supplies.”

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The council also pointed out that it had offered Hebborns a 25 per cent discount in 2019/20 as a transition to 2020/21, when it will align the booking costs for funfairs and circuses with those of other park users.

The rental cost in 2019/20 was therefore set to be £4,125, but vehicle charges would be in addition to the rental fee.

The Oxford Times:

Earlier this year, Common People, Oxford’s largest festival which used to take place in South Park, was scrapped following mounting debts.

A statement from Companies House showed debts of more than £267,000, with Oxford City Council owed £5,000 for the hire of the park.

Hebborn's funfair runs at Cheney until Monday with discounted fares on Sunday.