Weather’s £150m hit on rural economy

Great Yorkshire Show waterlogged conditions
Great Yorkshire Show waterlogged conditions
Have your say

THE impact of the horrendous weather seen so far this summer will cost the region’s rural economy more than £150m it was reported this week.

Research published by the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) showed that the cancellation of a string of countryside events, including the Great Yorkshire Show and the CLA Game Fair, due to bad weather would result in a loss of revenue of around £155m.

It comes after the CLA Game Fair in Leicestershire became the latest casualty of the weather this weekend, with hundreds of traders from the North due to attend alongside an expected 140,000 visitors.

Organisers expected £82m worth of business resulting from the event.

Now the CLA is saying the massive disruption to the summer show season has also deprived rural economies of a major annual injection of consumer cash.

Based on calculations from the figures reported when an event is cancelled, the CLA estimated around £30m was lost in the cancellation of Badminton, £4.5m from the Great Yorkshire Show after it was cancelled on the first day and £5m from the Suffolk Show cancelled on the second day.

The CLA said the total cost to the rural economy could be much higher at more than £240m if smaller events, such as Bingley Show, the North Yorkshire County Show, point-to-points and other local agricultural events are taken into account.

CLA North regional director Dorothy Fairburn said: “Not only is it heart-breaking when decisions are taken to cancel an event, the direct and indirect economic impacts can be devastating for all concerned.

“This quick analysis clearly shows that at least £150m has been lost to the rural economy, affecting those who organise the events, those who exhibit and trade, and those who attend for a great day out.

“For local economies, the knock-on effects could lead to small family firms going out of business at a time when trading conditions are fragile and the UK economy is in a double-dip recession.”

This week the organisers of the Great Yorkshire Show announced it would reimburse the trade stand holders for the two days they lost as a result of the cancellation.

In a move which is expected to cost the Yorkshire Agricultural Society around £700,000, the society will write to the 600 or so businesses offering the two thirds reimbursement which covers the cost of their stand.

Nigel Pulling, chief executive, said: “It was a heartbreaking decision to have to make but we said immediately that we regard our trade stand exhibitors as important partners in staging the event. Under our terms and conditions no refund is due, but we recognise that for many, the loss of two days’ business will have a severe impact at a time when trading is already challenging. Therefore, we have taken the decision to offer this refund.”

The cancellation is expected to cost the society around £2m in ticket refunds, extensive remedial work to the car parks during the show and cancelled attractions.

“Our remit as a charity is to support and encourage agriculture and we will continue to do that. Staging the Great Yorkshire Show and its sister event, Countryside Live remain at the heart of our activities as we continue to fly the flag for British agriculture,” said Mr Pulling.