‘Events great but taking people away hits trade’

Concerns:  Lesley Wood, of one of the businesses affected
Concerns: Lesley Wood, of one of the businesses affected

Hebden Bridge businesses are under threat from outside events, say owners and managers of pubs, cafes and shops in the town.

Local businesses have met twice to air their concerns about the impact of food and drinks stalls at these events on their trade.

Calder ward councillor Janet Battye said that the discontent was sparked by a recent event in Calder Holmes Park, when although local pubs and cafes had prepared to cater for large numbers, the footfall was much lower than expected. Coun Battye, said: “Their trade was reduced because the event on the park included food and drink stalls so visitors didn’t make their way into the town centre.”

She added that businesses were worried that the Tour de France might have a similar effect. “I hope that Calderdale Council tourism and business officers have managed to reassure them,” she said.

“It should bring tens of thousands of people into the area and they will all need food and drink during the day.

“More than enough trade for everyone, I hope, but I understand the concern from local businesses about the real danger of these stalls taking potential customers away from them when events are being held.”

Lesley Wood, licensee of The Crown Inn said that her whilst her trade should double when events come into town, it can drop by up to 70 per cent. “It’s becoming a weekly thing and our argument is that we are here all year paying rents and rate, but not seeing any profit when events come.

“The council don’t seem to be doing anything about it.

“Event organisers do a great job of getting people into the town, only to take them back out into the park and marina.

“There should be more focus on the streets and not just on Bridge Gate, because Market Street and the other side of town don’t feel the benefit.

“We’ve encouraged this discussion to start, we’ve walked around and the feeling is echoed by a lot of local businesses in the town who are feeling the knock-on effect.”

Lesley added that there needed to be more discussion between those who organise events and local businesses.

Coun Battye said that a new Business Forum is in the process of being set up and she hoped that this would give local businesses the opportunity to publicise and market what they have to offer.

She said: “One key idea that came out of the recent meeting was the need for a map or directory of local shops, pubs and cafes so that visitors can find their way around.”

Calderdale Council’s Cabinet member for communities, Coun Steve Sweeney, said: “Calderdale will be buzzing on as the Tour de France cycles through the borough. Thousands of people are expected to visit over the weekend. To help ease congestion in the town centre, Calder Holmes Park will host an official spectator hub. There will be food and drink to purchase here, and 70 per cent of these stall holders are local businesses.

“The town should expect a fabulous day, and we anticipate local businesses throughout Hebden Bridge will benefit, as has been the case with other successful recent events like Handmade Parade, and the events held as part of Hebden Bridge Arts Festival last weekend.”