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Oswestry shops left deflated by balloon festival

By Keri Trigg | Oswestry | Business | Published:

Town centre businesses lost trade to on-street vendors placed directly outside their premises during what should have been a bumper weekend, a cafe owner has claimed.

A burger van was set up in front of a cafe which the owner says hit his trade

Oswestry Balloon Carnival saw thousands of people descend on Oswestry over the weekend to see the spectacle of hot air balloons filling the skies above Cae Glas Park.

But some town centre businesses were left deflated by a "lack of consideration" by organisers in the positioning of catering vans.

Darren Davies, who owns the Old Coffee Pot and Tea Rooms in Church Street, was shocked to see a catering truck pitched up directly outside his premises on Saturday.

It came as a particular blow because the coffee pot had got into the spirit of the festivities by putting on a special menu and arranging later opening.

But Darren said the catering outlets were completely blocking off the street's shops meaning he had barely a handful of customers through the door for the duration of the festival.

He said: "We were led to believe the food stalls would be selling continental food. We decided to sell burgers and hot dogs, only to find a burger van had been allocated its space in front of us.

"As the menu was deliberately designed for the balloon festival, we purchased many items we don't normally serve, thus resulting in most of the stock being thrown away due to it being of no use to us.

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"Those loyal customers who came in to support us had no view of the park and the balloons due to the large vans blocking our window.

"As a small but very successful business, we were horrified at the lack of consideration made by the organisers.

"We advertised our menu in advance, and had a board displayed outside with balloons to incorporate the theme, although this was missed by many hundreds of visitors, due again to the stalls blocking our business."

The coffee shop made only 10 per cent of its expected sales on Saturday, despite staying open late until 10pm.

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On Sunday the shop had planned to be open from noon until 6pm, but Darren took the decision to close at 3pm after taking just £20 in three hours.

Darren added: "The balloon festival was a massive deal for Oswestry and for us and I want it to happen every year, but I don't want this to happen again.

"We just want to get our point across to the organisers that there are plenty of places to put things."

Oswestry town clerk Arren Roberts said: "This sort of feedback is extremely important if we are to continue with the balloon festival and the success that it was this year.

"We will work with partners to continue to improve what we have done. Generally it was well-received by businesses.

"We will take this feedback on board and continue to work with local businesses to improve things."

Keri Trigg

By Keri Trigg
Reporter - @KeriTrigg_LDR

Local Democracy Reporter covering Shropshire.

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