Chester Race Company has announced that it will freeze the number of Saturday fixtures it holds each year up until 2020 as part of a series of measures designed to help manage the impact of race days on Chester.
The announcement comes in response to an independent economic impact report on the influence the Racecourse has on the city, which was commissioned by Cheshire West and Chester Council and carried out by consultants Amion.
The study found that Chester Race Company contributes £54.1 million per year to the local economy, helping to attract between 7,000 and 25,500 visitors per fixture.
It also suggested that some retailers experienced a drop in in trade on Saturday race days but highlighted the need for more data to be collected to offer further insight, which is why back in April, CH1ChesterBID met with Chester Race Company, Cheshire Police and Cheshire West and Chester Council to discuss the report and its findings.
There are currently 15 race days in the calendar year and the racecourse executive have offered assurances that there are no plans to increase that number or the number of Saturday fixtures. The calendar of dates has been set until 2020 and information regarding the dates is set to be released in due course.
Carl Critchlow, BID Manager at CH1ChesterBID, said: “One of the big outcomes from the independent report and subsequent discussions with the racecourse, police and council is that we want to proactively manage the impact of race days in Chester.
“As many of the report’s findings showed, Chester Races makes an enormous contribution to the local economy, but there is definitely more that can be done to ensure that this isn’t at the detriment of other businesses in the city centre.
“We believe the best way to do that is through open and honest dialogue and we’re delighted that Chester Race Company has been so receptive in listening to the feedback highlighted. Fixing the number of race days and setting fixtures helps give us and the city centre businesses we represent a clearer idea of what the annual calendar will look like for the foreseeable future, allowing us to confidently plan events, festivals and other activities.
“We’re also working on a range of other ideas with Chester Race Company, including them joining the Purple Flag working group which looks at issues such as antisocial behaviour and street cleansing and helps maintain the world-class welcome we strive for as part of our Purple Flag status.
“By working together, we’re confident we can come up with a series of measures that are in the best interests of everyone involved in the city centre.”
Chief Executive of Chester Race Company, Richard Thomas, said: “We’re very keen to work closely with CH1ChesterBID and other city centre stakeholders following the publication of the impact report.
“We do recognise some of the negative impacts felt in the city centre from race days, but we found the report results to be overwhelmingly positive. There is more we can do and that’s why we’re collaborating with our city centre partners to put in new initiatives and measures that will hopefully increase and promote the benefits of race days to everyone.
“Setting the race fixtures and freezing the number of race days until 2020 is just the start of that, and although we have no plans in place to increase them, we felt that offering that assurance for the next two years would be beneficial for stakeholders across the city centre.
“We also know that the Chester race day experience goes beyond just the racecourse – the city centre has an enormous role to play in shaping that – and if we work together to get it right, we can ensure that people want to come back into Chester city centre time and time again.”