Businesses claim they don’t feel benefit of some of Hebden’s big events

Lesley Wood, licensee of the Crown Inn, one of the businesses who are concerned
Lesley Wood, licensee of the Crown Inn, one of the businesses who are concerned

Some business owners in Hebden Bridge say they are not feeling the benefit of events at Calder Holmes Park.

Owners of pubs, shops and restaurants have complained that because all amenities are provided by independent vendors, event-goers have no incentive to visit the town centre.

Business group Hebden Bridge Thrive are calling for event organisers to do more to encourage visitors to leave the park site and enjoy the town centre.

Lesley Wood, licensee of the Crown Inn, said: “Any time there is an event being held at the park there seems to be a lot of outside stall holders which takes all of the business out of the town.

“When there’s a big event, we don’t even make our average weekend - on average we’re about 40 to 50 per cent down.

“Times are hard enough as it is, and we can’t afford to take the hit like this.

“We don’t need these extra stalls coming into town - there are about 13 pubs where people can get food.”

Elizabeth Wood, owner of the White Swan, said a lot of businesses are still recovering from flooding and thinks event organisers need to take into account how outside vendors at events will affect local businesses.

She said: “I don’t think the people who organise these events are aware of what is happening - they’ve actually tried to promote the town.”

Stuart Andrews, owner of Not a Full Shilling jewellery shop said local businesses have missed out.

He said: “It’s a tragedy that we have all these great events going on in the town, and it all goes to the park.

“We’ve tried to talk to the Rotary Club about it, but they don’t want to hear it - it’s a shame really.

“Take something like the Tour de France - thousands turned out, the vibe was fantastic and a lot of businesses were down.”

Ian Lindsay of Hebden Bridge Rotary Club said the claims did not stack up and that lots of local businesses felt the benefit of the events it organises. He said the money raised from Rotary Club events is ploughed back into helping the local community.

He said: “Events like the duck race bring a huge number of people into the town - to say these visitors aren’t going into the town simply isn’t true.

“I think it’s a backlash from the Tour de France which did take away from businesses.

“For our events, all of the businesses on the park are local - they may be mobile businesses, but they are local businesses. There’s enough business for everyone, and we don’t hear the complaints when we have the duck race on. The fact is that for events like the Vintage Weekend, we need to put on food stalls in the same way we have to put on extra toilets.”

Coun Steve Sweeney (Lab, Todmorden), who sits on Hebden Royd Town Council, said: “The reality is that when there are more people visiting the town for the events, then the amount of business is going to be higher. When there’s events on you can’t get near the cafes and restaurants to get lunch. Competition is competition - I think businesses have to live with that.

“If we didn’t have the events on, the number of visitors would drop.”

Coun Peter Caffrey, Calderdale Council’s Cabinet member for Economy and Environment, said: “If people are coming in and taking business away, that’s clearly a problem. I will raise it with the council and see what can be done.”