Victorian Christmas Festival cancellation prompts question who is running Independent Garstang Traders group now?

The cancellation of this year's Garstang Victorian Christmas Festival has lead to calls for a stronger business group in the Wyre market town and raised questions about who made the decision.

By Fiona Finch
Friday, 17th September 2021, 12:30 pm

Mystery surrounds who is currently on the Garstang Vicotrian Christmas Festival committee and who holds office on its parent group Independent Garstang Traders.

Now Garstang Town councillor Roger Brooks has called for more information about who runs and takes decisions about the popular outdoor festival.

Coun Brooks spoke out following the recent cancellation of this year’s event.

Coun Roger Brooks who says he has raised questions not as a councillor but as a former member of the Chamber of Trade

He raised concerns about the lack of public knowledge or awareness about who, if anyone, is serving on the current Festival committee, or its parent group the Independent Garstang Traders. (IGT)

The retired solicitor, who formerly had offices in the town’s main street, stressed he was not speaking in his capacity as a councillor, but as “a curious former member of the Chamber of Trade behind the original festival concept which was to bring a community spirit to the town in Christmas week”.

He said: “Who, may I ask, are the festival committee, the spokesperson, and who do they represent?”

The notice of the Festival’s cancellation was posted on the Festival’s Facebook page and although messages can be left there, there are no details of who currently serves on the Festival committee. The page says the event is organised by IGT.

Garstang mayor Coun Alec Allan

Coun Brooks said the lack of information about the IGT and the fact it is not apparent who decided to cancel this year’s festival showed the increasing need for a strong business group in the town.

Referring to recent consultations by the new Greater Garstang Partnership Board on regeneration and investment options for the Wyre market town, Coun Brooks said: “Garstang is facing choice of direction with the recent consultation and report but without a strong and legitimate trade organisation representing businesses it is hampered. Do we have such a body?"

Town Mayor Coun Alec Alllan said: “My understanding is they (IGT) don’t have a chairman, they don’t have a secretary, they don’t have a treasurer.That to me seems they don’t exist.”

Local newsagent Richard Whyman of Market Place News said: “What the town needs is an active Chamber of Trade again that reflects all business interests.”

Richard and Kate Whyman of Market Place News, Garstang

Chairman Luke Pollard resigned from the IGT in spring 2020.

Coun Brooks’ comments came as there were signs that an appetite is growing in the town for businesses to get together once again.

This week an open meeting was held at Pipers restaurant in the town.

Laura Winnard, manager of Carrs Jewellers, said the idea for the meeting grew following a series of Zoom meetings held during lockdown to keep businesses communicating with one another. She said: "We had an open meeting to try to get something going again. There has been a group of us doing monthly Zooms since February."

Laura said the meetings had been to support each other during the pandemic and chat. She said: "It's early days. There was a real mix of businesses - businesses that haven't even opened yet and high street independents. It was basically to see if people are interested in being involved in a business group."

Such was the positive response of the 25 atttending another meeting is planned soon.

The Post was unable to contact anyone from IGT.

* The Lancashire Post is more reliant than ever on you taking out a digital subscription to support our journalism. For unlimited access to Lancashire news and information online, you can subscribe here.