Hereford & Worcester

Businesses want Hereford May Fair site moved

Some businesses in Hereford say they want the city's annual May Fair moved from the city centre amid "dread" over a drop in trade.

Up to 200 showmen and women are staging the event, which includes fairground rides and ancient ceremonies.

Herefordshire and Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce said it would press for the festival to be moved.

But Herefordshire Council insisted many traders said the event provided a "boost".

'Shut up shop'

The event will run until Thursday following the official opening outside All Saints Church at 1545 BST on Tuesday.

Broad Street, King Street and Bridge Street are closed to traffic at all times while the festival takes pace and some other roads are also closed at times.

Asked if it was an exciting event for local businesses, Gary Woodman, from the chamber of commerce, said it was "more dread".

He said the atmosphere brought something to the town, but trade dropped and it was "really difficult" for businesses in the city centre.

He said: "Pubs, clubs, restaurants clearly would probably do reasonable trade. But certainly any of the retailers, the professional services... there's one or two that actually just shut up shop...

"Our members tell us that actually they'd like to see it moved to anywhere else but in the city centre and I think we'll continue to press and see if we can achieve that."

Herefordshire Council said the festival had always been associated with the historic core of the city and it was reviewed every year "with a view to seeing how it could be improved for the following year".

A spokesman said: "It's been a tradition for the city to host the May Fair for many years and it draws in thousands of visitors.

"We understand that not all businesses benefit from this, but on the other hand many traders tell us that it's an annual boost for them.

"Every year we look at the layout with regard to access for people with disabilities and we work to ensure that those with wheelchairs and with limited mobility still have access to all the shops in the city centre."

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