THE decision has been made to cancel the Taste Cumbria food festival that as due to take place in Cockermouth next weekend.

This year's event was always billed as smaller than previous to accommodate safety measured to the coronavirus pandemic.

However, the decision to cancel the event comes after tightened government advice regarding people gathering i groups was introduced this week.

The precautionary decision was also taken in light of the recent rise in the number of coronavirus cases locally and nationally. Many of the areas affected are where people have traditionally travelled from for the popular festival.

All ticketed events have also been cancelled, with those who have booked tickets receiving a refund. The event was to see comedian and star of The Chase, Paul Sinha, performing his Big Quiz show to a sell-out crowd on Sunday, with other entertainment and more comedy planned for the Saturday.

Organisers, Allerdale Council took the decision in consultation with local public health officials and partners on the event which include the Chamber of Trade.

A new date has not been set but it is hoped it will take place in Spring 2021.

Councillor Mike Johnson, deputy leader of Allerdale Council, said: “This has been an incredibly difficult decision to make and I know we will be disappointing so many people - residents, visitors, stall holders and business owners. We have all seen how hugely popular this event is and how it benefits the town's businesses. However, public safety is also a top priority. That’s why, taking into account the updated guidance, we have decided to err on the side of caution and not go ahead with this year's event.

“Taste Cumbria is such a social event and we fear that the new guidelines on social distancing, which are obviously vitally important at this time, would be restricting what makes the festival so enjoyable.

“We are sure we had a plan for the event which should have kept everyone safe but, after considering the updated guidance with specialist officers and spoken to local businesses, we have very reluctantly decided the wisest decision is not to go ahead with the festival at this time. I'd prefer to call this a postponement of the festival until the Covid-19 restrictions, which are in place to safeguard us all, can be eased.

“Market research last year showed that for every £1 Allerdale Council invested in the event, £90 was put back into the local economy – something in the region of £2.2 million. The importance of events like this for our towns cannot be underestimated - not least at such a

difficult time for businesses. But we need to be cautious and that’s why we are already planning ahead so that Taste Cumbria can come back brilliantly when the time is right.”

The council will be contacting directly any traders and other companies involved in the event.