Halifax urged to rally round its independent pubs, bars and cafes struggling under continuing restrictions

Halifax is being urged to support its independent hospitality businesses in the wake of at least another four weeks of crippling restrictions.

Friday, 18th June 2021, 9:26 am
Michael Ainsworth who runs Meandering Bear and Grayston Unity
Michael Ainsworth who runs Meandering Bear and Grayston Unity

The town is home to a smorgasbord of local bars, pubs, cafes and restaurants - but they need custom if they are to survive the pandemic, residents have been warned.

“If you have liked how the town has been improving over the last five years and want that to continue, these businesses need your support,” said Michael Ainsworth, who runs The Grayston Unity and Meandering Bear.

Monday evening saw the hospitality industry’s hopes of being able to open to full capacity and without social distancing restrictions from next week dashed.

Several Halifax businesses have told the Courier that the news was not a surprise, and they support the decision, but have also spoken of the difficulties they face.

”There’s not enough footfall during the week,” said Michael. “People aren’t working in the town centre or outskirts, people are unsure about going out and people don’t like the perceived rigmarole of the restrictions.

“If you didn’t know Halifax, you could visit the Piece Hall and walk up through the Westgate Arcade and you’d think there was a buzz about the town but it’s a bit of a bubble. It’s not reflected across the rest of the town.”

Some businesses, like Maggies, have not opened since March 2020.“It’s been difficult,” said Manager Kirsten Wilcock, “Hopefully people will come and support us when we are open.”

Restrictions have also hit theatres and cinemas. Kay Packwood, Executive Director of Dean Clough-based Northern Broadsides, said some venues are not opening until 2022.

Her company has been working on some limited-audience performances, providing work for theatre industry freelancers. “We’ve been keeping busy and keeping other people busy and hopefully keeping our audience engaged,” she said.

Nicky Chance-Thompson, Chief Executive of The Piece Hall Trust, said whilst the delay in lifting restrictions was disappointing, there is still cause for optimism.

"Our shops and traders have been brilliant and we have successfully and safely operated our venue since we reopened in April.

"Whilst we will have to keep running at a reduced capacity until the easing of restrictions allows, we still have a great offer here, for all the family. We are running a fantastic series of events over the coming weeks and months, which include arts installations, performances and our ever-popular maker’s market.

"We have always been a hub for our community, and we will remain so now and when restrictions ease further. It is clear to see the delight on people’s faces as and when they come to The Piece Hall, and we recognise the important role this building plays in the regional economy, but also on people’s wellbeing.

"In the immediate future, we will do everything we can, working alongside partners such as Calderdale Council, to help in the effort to get people fully vaccinated. The latest pop-up vaccine clinic has been confirmed to attend The Piece Hall on Friday, June 18 to Sunday, June 20, and if you’re eligible, please do drop in for more details.

"The wait is nearly over and we are excited to see our building back at full capacity soon."