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Britannia Coconut Dancers given UNESCO treaty lifeline hope
9:20am Thursday 5th December 2013 in East Lancashire
A PETITION calling on the British government to sign up to an international treaty to protect the future of the Britannia Coconut Dancers has been signed by almost 7,500 people.
The Coconutters have been told their annual Easter Boundary Dance cannot go ahead in its traditional form next year after crowd control problems in April.
But supporters have rallied round the 156-year-old troupe and urged the government to ratify UNESCO’s Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage.
The convention protects 312 dances, songs, festivals and works of art in 157 countries, including Flamenco music and dancing in Spain, Panama hats in Ecuador and the Tango in Argentina.
UNESCO - the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation – adopted the convention in October 2003 and it came into force in April 2006.
The starter of the petition, Keith Leech, said: “Our traditional customs are an important part of our national heritage and in danger of being lost because organisers cannot afford the costs associated with compliance with health and safety legislation, insurance costs, security costs and similar placed on them by local authorities.
“These local authorities should be providing the means for the traditional customs to continue not placing obstacles in the way.
“There is no question of compromising public safety but the means to make our customs possible without stretching the resources of the people who carry them out must be found.
“Nobody questions the resources used for the protection of World Heritage Sites and this is no different.”
The Coconutters’ secretary, Joe Healey, said: “It’s great so many people are backing us.
“It’s important to protect traditions which bring happiness to people in the area and bring the community together.” Last month, the Rossendale MP Jake Berry raised the Coconutters’ predicament with House of Commons leader Andrew Lansley
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