One of Todmorden’s biggest events has been cancelled and 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”.
Calderdale Council says it has acted on advice from the Environment Agency on how to make sure the park’s drainage system remains effective.
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 to consider such a major undertaking.
“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 event’s return next year, and look forward to welcoming our visitors back in 2017.”
Officers have raised 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.
One option would be to use matting or boarding for the events, but this could come at significant expense.
However the Mayor of Todmorden, Councillor 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 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.
She added: “I can completely understand why the society is upset about this, but I understand that Calderdale Council has been put in a difficult position and have only just received information about this.”
The restrictions will have an impact on another popular event in the town - Todmorden Carnival.
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.
“This could be the last one,” Mr Clarke said. “The whole idea is to raise money for different charities and if you can’t raise money then what’s the point in doing it.”
Andrew Pitts, Calderdale Council’s head of neighbourhoods, said: “Centre Vale is one of our most popular parks and hosts a number of important community events throughout the year. It also plays an essential role in protecting Todmorden from flooding by diverting water from the River Calder into the park during heavy rainfall.
“Following concerns about standing water in the park, the council asked the Environment Agency to improve the drainage system. This has now been done and the Environment Agency has advised the council on how to ensure the new system remains effective, including preventing damage to the underground pipes.
“Therefore we’ve had to introduce weight restrictions throughout the park, which means that events will need to be carefully managed to meet these requirements.”