Business owners hit out at organisers after promised crowds fail to materialise

Local business-owners in the Lancashire village of Barley, on the route of last weekend’s National Road Race Championships in Pendle, claim that they have suffered financial loss after much lower than expected crowds turned out to watch the event.

The women’s race, won by Cervélo TestTeam’s Emma Pooley, began at 8.30am but the men’s event, where Team Sky’s Geraint Thomas claimed victory from team-mate Peter Kennaugh, didn’t get going until 1pm, meaning that it clashed with TV coverage of England’s World Cup match against Germany, which kicked off two hours later.

The village, which lies at the bottom of Pendle Hill, was effectively cut off during the championships, which were organised by Pennine Events, according to a report in the Burnley Citizen.

The newspaper says that local businesses had been told to expect a turnout of 15,000 people along the route on Sunday, but added that villagers claimed that only 1,000 people passed through Barley during the race.

It added that race organisers had said that 5,000 people lined the entire route, but acknowledged that the clash with the World Cup match, which saw England dumped out of the tournament 4-1, had a “devastating effect on numbers,” adding that “overall the event was a wonderful occasion.”

Paula Milligan, who owns The Cabin Cafe, says she lost £3,000 as a result of failing to sell her stock of energy drinks, partly as a result of free samples being given away as a result of promotions linked to the event, telling the newspaper: “It was just ridiculous that we had been told to buy in crates of these drinks when the organisers knew that a sponsor a couple of metres away from us would be giving them out for free.”

Ms Milligan continued: “We had 10 staff on stand by for the big rush but it just never happened. We were lucky that we had got the contract to feed all the marshalls and organisers otherwise we would have been in dire straits."

Another local business-owner, Rob Mcauley from the Barley Mow restaurant on the outskirts of the village claimed that “It ended up being quieter than a normal weekend and we lost thousands,” and maintained that “The promises we were given were just downright ludicrous.”

According to the newspaper, Brian Cookson, who besides being President of British Cycling is also Executive Director (Regeneration) at Pendle Council, said that visitor numbers had been estimated at between 5,000 and 20,000.

He also claimed that it hadn’t been possible to predict the clash with the World Cup match, although it should be pointed out that ever since the tournament draw was made last December, Sunday afternoon was only one of two times that England could have played a potential last 16 match.

Mr Cookson added: "We have no doubt that the long term benefits to local businesses will be very substantial as these visitors spread the word about the attractions of Pendle."

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.


vPoor [27 posts] 7 years ago

Having been at the event, the 5000 visitor figure is definitely closer to the mark, but 'The Cabin' is right, we did all get a free Gatorade or 2! People should have realised we'd get stuffed at the football and turned up at an event with a guaranteed British winner.

demoff [327 posts] 7 years ago

We were there and there was most certainly more than 1,000 people in Barley, as the previous poster said 5,000 is probably close. Given the course route once the race started there was no real way of getting down into Barley and this is something that maybe should have looked at as it was pretty much a lockdown, not everyone will have wanted to be there 5 hours. I know the Park and Ride from Downham was dropping people into a coralled area and it was a 2.5km walk to get to Barley if you knew the area. We took bikes and managed to ride down Barley Fell in the gap between the Womens and Mens Race.

Once in Barley it was well organised with plenty of refreshments. A mate went into the Pub to watch a bit of the match and said it was absolutely heaving. Gatorade to be fair was tucked away at the back of the event village.

The green in front of the big screen and adjacent to the finish had a large crowd all day that grew considerably as the finish loomed.

There was some profiteering with one of the Pubs charging 80p for a Mars bar or a packet of crisps.

Without doubt they had a smaller turnout than expected due to the football but it did not appear to be a washout.

gofer [1 post] 7 years ago

I was in the event village all weekend and in full view of the Kabin- there was a constant queue for food and their BBQ was heaving with customers.5,000 people is far closer to the mark as I alone had over 3,000 people visit my stand. What a shame that some people have been unable to see this as a multi-partnership event with benefits to everyone rather than being greedy and moaning about 'lost revenue'. Anyone visiting a new area who checked out the Good Food Guide to see how well local pubs/restaurants are rated will have made their own mind up about where the best places were to eat. No-one is gong to pay over the odds for poor food are they?