A car show in a Derbyshire town that draws thousands to the area has been canceled this year following concerns from the local council that the event would be too crowded. The Chesterfield Motor Fest started in 2018 and is organized by Chesterfield Market traders Adrian Ashton and Bev Thomas, usually with the support of Chesterfield Borough Council.
However, after two years without an event due to the Covid pandemic, the council announced that it would not allow the car festival to be held in the city center for public safety reasons. A statement given to Destination Chesterfield says the council is concerned that ‘the large number of vehicles, participants and other activity in the pedestrianized town center will make it difficult for emergency services to access’.
The decision made last Wednesday (May 18) upset many followers of the event which was scheduled for August 14 this year. Organizer Adrian Ashton said support had been “tremendous” after the meeting, but he is annoyed with the way the council has approached the issue.
Read more: Barclays announces branch closure in Derbyshire town
Adrian said: “We were told the event would bring too many people so we came up with some alternatives to try to make it safe and address any issues they [Chesterfield Borough Council] had with Motor Fest. We mentioned making it a smaller event, which could have been governed or controlled, but they said no.”
The event brings together thousands of car enthusiasts who flock to the city center to take a look at a range of vehicles from each decade, as well as to browse a range of ‘auto-pell-mell’ stalls. The first event in 2018 turned out to be a huge success and was initially organized to try and help the city centre.
Adrian said: “The first event came at a time when the city center was at a crippling point, and since then the event has grown in size. We have achieved our goal of increasing footfall in the center downtown, but now footfall is dwindling in the downtown area and empty stores are becoming more common.
“We could hold a car show anywhere and make it a success. We’ve proven that with this event, but we want to help Chesterfield town centre.”
It is also claimed that Adrian and his co-organizer Bev Thomas were asked to sign documents which would have essentially meant that they would sign the popular event to the council. This was never an option for organizers who usually work as market traders.
“We created Motor Fest as a non-profit event for the benefit of the people of Chesterfield. We put our own money into it and everything we created was for the town,” added Adrian.
Speaking on the future of Motor Fest, Adrian explained how potential venues had arisen in and around Chesterfield and hopefully the event will continue. Adrian wondered if it was worth holding the event in another venue, as the original aim was to help Chesterfield town centre.
“The support has been absolutely huge. Motor Fest will continue, but it won’t be in the town center because the council doesn’t want it there, but it will continue.”
A spokesperson for Chesterfield Borough Council said: ‘In reviewing the borough’s events programme, the council and our partners have carefully considered a number of issues relating to the future safety and viability of Motor Fest.
“The latest event in 2019 identified concerns over the overall security of the event – concerns that have been heightened given the organizers’ drive to grow this already large-scale event.
“After reviewing a range of information and options, we have concluded that the scale and format proposed for this event has become too large for the pedestrianized city center and therefore poses a risk to public safety. . We worked closely with the organisers, offering event management support to try to overcome some of the concerns, but unfortunately it was not possible to reach an agreed solution to run an event safely. security.
“We appreciate that this is a popular event that has served the city well and that many people will be disappointed by this news – but public safety must be our priority and the council is committed to helping organizers to find a more suitable location. .
“We remain committed to doing all we can to encourage people to visit and stay safely in our town centre, to support local businesses and to ensure that Chesterfield remains an attractive destination to visit. Looking at our event offering for this year, we are making progress on a number of key events which will attract significant numbers of visitors and increase footfall in the town centre, including the 1940s Market and Medieval Festival.
Regarding the future of Chesterfield town centre, a spokesperson for Chesterfield City Council said: “We are absolutely committed to the future of Chesterfield with a vibrant town centre. We are currently undergoing a major regeneration and investment program which will transform our town and ensure that we continue to be a thriving borough for many years to come.
“The £10.28 million Chesterfield Heart Revitalization Program will transform the look, feel and flow of the town centre, creating a contemporary market built on our proud history and heritage.
“Our proposals – which are currently in public consultation – include reimagined city center spaces that can be used flexibly for attractions such as markets, festivals, events and cultural celebrations that are of a size and of a proportionate and safe ladder.
“With the major refurbishment of Stephenson Memorial Hall on Corporation Street (home to the Pomegranate Theater and Chesterfield Museum) and other key regeneration projects underway in the city centre, these investments will transform our borough and serve to stimulate new private sector investments.