It was the event that should never have happened - but hundreds of bikers took matters by the handlebars and roared into Skegness anyway.
Tower Esplanade was lined with motorbikes last night - as it always has been for the annual Skegness Bike Night, which is part of Lincolonshire Bike Week.
However, just two days earlier there were fears it wouldn’t happen after the RNLI who usually host the charity event at the Lifeboat Station announced they had been forced to pull out ‘due to circumstances out of our control’.
The post on Facebook was met with outrage after it was suggested East Lindsey District Council had pulled the plug on the bike night on health and safety grounds - with bikers saying ‘come anyway’, businesses in the surrounding area offering to still suppport them and ELDC being forced to provide its own ‘traffic management’ in response.
Bike Night was advertised as including ‘stalls, live bands, events and all kinds of bikes’ -.but in the end it was a more simple occasion, saved by the number of nearby business owners who stayed open to welcome the bikers.
One of them was Coun Danny Brookes, who has a refreshments kiosk on the sea front and said: “In the end it was a good night. The bikers were in good spirits - maybe not so many as last year but when 1500 riders come into the town and spend a tenner each you have to support them.”
The one big disappointment for the bikers was the RNLi was unable to put out collection boxes.
Biker Paul Napper said: “There was a fantastic turnout of bikers and families which was great to see and we would like to thank all the vendors who stayed open for us and made us welcome.
“But the big disappointment was the RNLI was not allowed to put out collection boxes - that’s what Skegness Bike Night is all about and why riders come from all over the county and support it.
“The council paid for traffic management that they didn’t need and the car park near the RNLI station was closed to cars which we couldn’t understand. But the decision stopping the RNLI from having collecting buckets is costing lives at sea and deprives a charity of the money it needs.
“There doesn’t seem to be a definitive answer as to why this decision was taken but there are 365 days to the next Skegness Bike Night so let’s hope it’s sorted by then.”
A spokesman for the RNLI said: “It was really great to see so many bikers come from across the county and further afield to enjoy the sunshine and have such a great event here at the foreshore in Skegness, despite the issues experienced during gaining permission to host the night. As a charity that lies at the heart of the local community its tremendous to see so many people coming together and enjoying our coast. Importantly is was nice to see the event we have worked so hard to bring to the town go ahead.
“We have worked extremely hard over the last six years to continually build and develop a very successful and, importantly, safe event for bikers to enjoy, we are fully committed to continuing this tradition next year and onwards.
“This year we experienced many challenges, firstly experiencing issues where the request for us to hold the event was lost by the local authority, forcing us to make a short notice request instead, with only a few weeks to go. Whilst we worked closely with ELDC in the last seven days we were not able to fulfil the extensive, evolving list of new requirements we experienced.
“The requests made this year by ELDC, more demanding than in any other, were simply unachievable and our dedicated team of volunteer crew, who have marshalled and run the event successfully for many years, were simply not able to cover the myriad of staffing levels that were requested.
“Not being able to meet the requirements for the event management plan left us no choice but to withdraw the application, a difficult decision made with great sadness. We hope very much that we will have more success organising next years event with the relevant authority.”
East Lindsey District Council’s Growth and Promotions Service Manager, James Gilbert, said: “The council is keen to encourage events to East Lindsey, recognising the enormous benefit they bring to the economy.
“Skegness Bike Night was once again a real success, with hundreds of motorcyclists descending on the town and supporting the local businesses.
“Recognising the sheer number of people likely to come, and the decision by the RNLI to withdraw from the event, the council put in place its own traffic management arrangements on this occasion to ensure those who attended could have a safe and enjoyable evening.
“We’d encourage any event organisers looking at using council land to engage with us as early as possible – ideally at least three months beforehand - via the event management process, which is detailed on our website, to ensure that we can guide them in achieving a safe and successful event.”