“Fifty-five per cent of our customers come from south Manchester, and they had real difficulty in getting to the event. There was an hour and a half queue on the roads out of Manchester. Many people just turned around and went home.”
The North West Food Lovers’ Festival had been planned to come the weekend after the closure of the M56 to rebuild the Bowdon View bridge.
But the work unexpectedly went on a for a third weekend – meaning the motorway was closed on the Saturday of the event, causing huge delays to traffic.
The event brought together around 120 food producers from across the north west and expected to pull in 14,000 visitors.
But organiser Steven Wundke estimates that 1,400 fewer people than he expected came – and he’s sending a bill to the Highways Agency.
He reckons they lost £10,000 from tickets sales, with vendors losing a further £40,000 from lack of custom.
He said: “We’ll be looking down legal channels to see what rights we have. If we don’t get a response from them and we have to go legal then we will.
“If I knew that the road was going to be closed that weekend of course I wouldn’t have held the event then.
He also says he was forced to spend £1,000 of his own money on diversion signs.
A spokesman for the Highways Agency said: “We have worked hard over the last month to keep motorway users and stakeholders, including Tatton Park, informed of diversions, as well as the progress of the works.
“Tatton Park was accessible at all times during our weekend works. There were no restrictions on the local road network and fully signed diversion routes were in place.”