One of Todmorden’s biggest events has been cancelled and the future of another is in jeopardy after Calderdale Council imposed weight restrictions on Centre Vale Park.
Todmorden Agricultural Show, which would have been held on Saturday, June 18, is now in its 86th year and organisers say they have taken the decision to cancel the event with “great regret”.
The council’s decision comes after it sought advice from the Environment Agency on how to ensure the park’s drainage system remains effective after work was carried out to improve it.
Concerns about the areas of the park where piping is close to the surface and may be at risk of crushing by heavy vehicles or spikes used in tent or marquee installation had been raised by officers.
Rob Goldthorpe, Todmorden Agricultural Society general secretary, said: “The decision has been taken following careful thought and debate, after several meetings with Calderdale Council officers.
“The council has raised issues over vehicle axle weights and positioning of marquees in the park which would need to be addressed.
“We are disappointed the council only raised these concerns so late in the day, as there are issues of the society being liable for some damage restoration. In the light of this it became clear the only way this year’s event could have taken place would have been to completely redraw the showground plan and at this stage it is too late.
“The issues need careful consideration for next year, which we will seek to undertake with council officers. We hope we can work with the council to ensure the events return next year.”
One option would be to use tracking or boarding for the events, but this could come at significant expense.
However the Mayor of Todmorden Steph Booth, says that she believes Calderdale Council did everything they could to enable the show to go ahead.
She said the Todmorden Agricultural Society was offered financial help from Calderdale Council and officers would have looked at any new show plans as a matter of urgency to make sure they complied with the new restrictions.
Organisers of Todmorden Carnival say the restrictions will also have an impact.
Phillip Clarke, chairman of the carnival committee, said that the committee has paid £1,500 to rent tracking for the carnival’s fairground attractions, but it may not be viable to do it again next year.”
Andrew Pitts, Calderdale Council’s head of neighbourhoods, said: “We understand how important Todmorden Agricultural Show is to the life of the town and how hard a dedicated group of local people work to arrange such a popular annual event.
“It is regrettable that the role of the park as an essential part of the town’s flood defences causes some restrictions to its usage in relation to vehicles.
“We met with the committee and pledged to do everything we could to facilitate this year’s show, but unfortunately time was against us. The information about weight restrictions only became available recently and the committee decided they could not reorganise this large event at short notice.
“However, we will now work with organisers to ensure they can design next year’s show to include appropriate vehicle routing and site layout to minimise the likelihood of any damage to the drainage system.”