Business owners' frustration as Middlesbrough's 'lifeline' Orange Pip Market cancelled in August

The event is expected to be back again in September. Credit: Facebook / Orange Pip Market

Business owners have criticised a decision not to hold the Orange Pip Market in August, branding it a lifeline for struggling independent bars.

Funding cuts earlier this year have meant the market in Middlesbrough cannot be delivered in August.

It comes after the council’s £148,000 budget for events had been slashed, as part of £12.4 million cost-saving measures.

Lee Beresford, the chairman of Orange Pip Market, said: “It’s lost income isn’t it. It brings people to the town from all over the place, it’s packed.

"It’s vital for those businesses around here. It would pay our electricity bill when the bills have gone sky high.

“It’s your biggest trading day of the month and that could tide you over to pay your bills. It’s a lifeline, especially for a small independent business.”

There are also concerns over the alcohol duty freeze being lifted at the start of August. Credit: Facebook / Orange Pip Market

The Teesside staple brings together art, music and kids activities, as well as food and drink from around the world.

This is the seventh year the market has taken place in the town and June’s event was the first since it popped up at Middlesbrough Town Hall in December 2022.

Dovecot owner Carl Blake has raised his concern that the lack of an August market also coincides with the alcohol duty freeze being lifted on 1 August, which will see prices rise with inflation.

Mr Blake said: “Obviously, it’s a disappointment because the pub industry is not at its best at the moment so every little bit helps.

"Once you lose something like that it’s a disappointment. In August there’s another big increase for spirits and wines so it’s cutting your profit margins down and obviously, Orange Pip is now not there to help you with takings.”

The manager of The Twisted Lip bar says the closure "will affect us negatively." Credit: Facebook / Orange Pip Market

Laura Kelbrick, 27, who is the manager at the Twisted Lip said the whole town would be impacted.

She added: “It will affect us negatively, it does bring a lot of revenue into the businesses. It’s all the way through Middlesbrough that it affects.

“I was managing on Saturday [when the last Orange Pip was on] and I walked outside and everyone was having an amazing time, everyone had a big smile on their face and it was sunny, which always helps.

“Even when the weather is rubbish the atmosphere is always really nice. We all work together as businesses to get it done as well. It’ll be a massive dent, especially with all the trouble facing hospitality now.”

Emails seen by the Local Democracy Reporting Service from local authority officers confirm that the council’s executive will vote on approving funding, which has been identified for Orange Pip events, in August.

This will ensure markets can go ahead in September and then in June, July, August and September next year.

The email states: “The council’s approved budgets for 2023/24 have impacted on the funding available for Orange Pip Market for the remainder of this season. The council have endeavoured to identify funding to bridge this gap and believe they have been successful in doing so.

“Should the council’s executive approve the above noted funding, we fully anticipate being able to deliver September’s Orange Pip Market, however, it is with sincere regret that we will not be able to commit to delivering the Orange Pip Market in August.”

It goes on to add: “I fully appreciate that the loss of August’s Orange Pip Market will be keenly felt by all those affected.”

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