Almost 300 people have put their names to an online petition after plans to stage a Christmas festival in Clitheroe were cancelled.
The Save Clitheroe Christmas Fair petition had been signed by 293 people after being set up following a decision by Ribble Valley Borough Councilto refuse permission for the event.
Due to this debacle I have had several offers of other venues to host the Christmas event at, so the team and I are exploring these optionsOrganiser
Members of its community services committee voted against the proposal by Lancashire Bites to hold a festive event on Clitheroe Castle field from Wednesday December 2nd to Sunday December 6th.
They cited reasons that the new festival could have an impact on local trade and that the event coincided with already established festivals such as the annual Pickwick Festival in Whalley.
Organisers of the Clitheroe Christmas Festival had planned to stage a tented event on the castle field with an entrance fee of £7.50 per person. Attractions would have included an ice rink, 50 stalls selling food and gift items plus a large bar area with a dance floor for party nights.
Julie Whalley, managing director of Lancashire Bites, said: “I am utterly disappointed and deeply frustrated that our Christmas fair at the Castle event was rejected by those who are supposed to represent us all. Many people wanted this event to happen, and with time running short and knowing other local towns were planning large scale events, we ran with advertising, hoping as did most, everything would fall into place. Sometimes as a business you have to take a risk, no one can say we didn’t try.”
She added: “We pressed on in case Clitheroe was left with just a Santa’s grotto, singing in the high street and some carol singing at the Nativity scene later in the day, like last year, all very lovely and I am sure planned with much enthusiasm, but sadly not enough to persuade the vast majority of today’s modern shoppers from jumping onto the Manchester Christmas market bound trains, or setting off for other towns for some extra festive fun – again.”
Members of RVBC’s community services committee voted seven to five against offering their approval in principle to the event.
Robert Thompson, chairman of RVBC’s community services committee, said: “The council has to balance attracting visitors to the borough with the needs of residents and businesses, and on this occasion councillors were persuaded by arguments against holding the event in this particular format.”
Daniel Williams, president of Clitheroe Chamber of Trade and Commerce, spoke at the meeting outlining the Chamber’s concerns about the festival.
Speaking to Chamber members after the meeting, he said: “The general consensus, and the thoughts taken forward, were that in principal the idea was a good one and the ice rink would be a real draw.”
However, he added that there was concern the festival’s 50 shops could just be duplicating items already available in the town and the bar and entertainment side would detract from local businesses of this type.
“All this was coupled with the fact the entrance fee wouldn’t allow people to roam freely in and out of the venue and seemed to be geared up to keeping people inside.”
The festival’s organiser Julie commented: “Due to this debacle I have had several offers of other venues to host the Christmas event at, so the team and I are exploring these options.”