Festival leaves bad taste

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Furious business owners fear a food and drink festival will hit their trade on one of the busiest weekends of the year.

Citylicious Events is bringing pop-up restaurants, wine-tasting and cooking demonstrations to the Promenade alongside Central Pier over the weekend of August 29, 30 and 31 as part of the Illuminations Switch-On weekend.

Artisan produce, Champagne and cocktails will be among the goods on offer.

But the move has angered some existing traders who claim it will take business away from them.

Gaynor Sedgwick, who owns the Blackpool Fish Factory on Central Promenade, said: “We are here all year round, paying huge rates to the council, and then on the busiest weekend of the year, the council decides to ship in a load of other businesses selling food and drink.

“There is no loyalty by the council to the people here all the time. I don’t think it will even bring in more crowds, because they are not promoting it enough.”

Kevin Ruddigan, of the Seafood Shack, said: “We work hard all year and Switch-On should be the busiest weekend of the year, but it’s like a smash and grab for them.

“It will definitely hit our trade. The money visitors spend will be diluted between more people.”

Another operator, who asked not to be named, said: “It is a struggle as it is, and now the council is bringing in more competition.

“We sell ice-cream and there will be stalls at the festival also selling ice-cream. It just doesn’t seem fair.”

But Citylicious director Iain Fenwick said the festival would attract enough footfall to benefit businesses throughout Blackpool.

And council bosses say the move will bring in a very different kind of offer.

Mr Fenwick said: “We are not looking to take away trade, we are looking to boost the brand of Blackpool and enhance trade and diversify choice for the consumer.

“We are reaching out to people not just in Blackpool, but in Manchester, Liverpool and further south to Birmingham and we know this is going to encourage people to spend money in the town.”

Coun Graham Cain, 
Blackpool Council’s cabinet member for leisure and tourism, said: “The Switch-On Food and Drink Festival will bring a very different brand of food and drink to the table with high end products from every continent.

“With demonstrations from celebrity chefs, the BBC Food and Drink programme and much more, we expect it to offer something totally new.

“It is also an open event with people able to go in and out, which means consumers can vote with their feet.

“This is the first time we’ve tried anything like this on the Promenade and we hope it will be a big success.

“We’re confident that it will increase footfall which, 
ultimately, if you have a product in place that people want, should be good for everyone.”