Traders complain of losing out on duathlon day

TRADERS have complained of missing out on business due to a town event.

More than 250 competitors descended on Morpeth over the Easter bank holiday to take part in a duathlon, which was a qualifier for the ITU Sprint Distance World Championships.

But despite the large number of visitors, businesses say trade was way down on what would normally be expected.

At a meeting of the Morpeth and District Chamber of Trade last week members said that the road closures and disruption kept customers away, while the event was not publicised enough to draw more people in.

Andrew Watt, who runs Carlo’s chip shop in New Market, said: “The bank holidays are usually the busiest time of the year.

“The duathlon wasn’t very well advertised and it cut the town off until two o’clock in the afternoon. There were a few family members of competitors around taking pictures, but no business at all.

“Does the race have to be in the town itself or could it be held outside somewhere? I had complaints because customers were ringing up for orders, but they couldn’t get into the town to collect them.”

Fellow trader Kim Gallagher, who was a guest at the meeting, added: “The Easter holiday and bank holiday Monday should have been heaving, but I don’t think any business did anything at all. It was a real shame. It was a very quiet town on that Monday.”

Greater Morpeth Development Trust Chief Executive David Lodge said that event organiser VO2max Racing was carrying out a review of the competition with Northumberland County Council and would be keen to hear feedback.

He said the date of the duathlon had not been the preferred one, but there was no other option, and a planned children’s event to run alongside it was unable to take place. Road closures had been finalised at a late stage, but Mr Lodge said there was publicity about the event in the press.