PUBLICANS have reacted with anger at the Hawker Festival held in Carlisle, which they feel has taken trade from them just as they get back on their feet following lockdown.

Dianne Irving, who owns The Crown, The Howard Arms and the Milbourne Arms in Carlisle, feels the event undercut the city’s publicans, taking their trade with the money leaving the area.

She said: “We’ve had a horrendous 18 months in hospitality. I believe the city council are doing this as a local market. When I first heard about it I thought ‘I’ve obviously missed something, I’m going to see lots of stalls with local people in’ and that’s definitely not the case.”

The festival of entertainment and stalls took place on Saturday and Sunday.

Dianne said: “All the money that goes into this is going to go out of the city. This was set up with Government money that was meant to rejuvenate the city.”

She added that the pop-up beer gardens have taken trade away from the bricks-and-mortar businesses in Carlisle.

“It’s the local businesses that are suffering. We’re not getting anyone in because they’re sat in the town centre. It’s just a bit of a kick in the teeth when we’re trying to find our feet.

“There’s no reason that bar areas couldn’t have been run by the businesses in the town.

However, Carlisle City Council has said that the Hawker Festival brought trade into the city.

“The Hawker Festival was a great success and attracted thousands of visitors to the city. All the Cumbrian traders taking part – making up nearly half the open-air market – were given the opportunity to take part free of charge," a spokesman said.

“The event also provided a platform for local performers, who were able to perform live to an audience for the first time since lockdown restrictions were put in place.

“The event was held during the day and did not impact on the evening economy.

“It attracted visitors who would then move on to other venues within the city. We appreciate any feedback on the event and would encourage anyone with any concerns to contact us directly.”