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Show will be missed but traffic chaos won’t
3:05pm Wed Jan 23, 2013
 
Visitors and exhibitors at the final Lamma show at Newark Showground said they would be sorry to see it leave — but would not miss the traffic chaos.
It has been estimated the loss of the UK’s largest agricultural machinery show could cost the local economy about £5m a year, based on attendances of close to 40,000 people.

Next year’s Lamma show will be at Peterborough.

The move is mainly to accommodate the show’s continued growth, but is partly blamed on the traffic gridlock that has become an increasing problem in recent years.

The show has grown by 800% since moving to Newark in 1998, and last week’s was the biggest yet with more than 860 exhibitors.

It led to traffic tailbacks in and around Newark, with drivers facing delays of two hours.

Mr Adrian Johnston, the chief executive of Newark and Nottinghamshire Agricultural Society, which owns the showground, said the weather, along with an accident on the A1 and a lorry breakdown at Brownhills roundabout, made the situation worse.

He said traffic was reduced to a single lane on the A46.

Mr Johnston said: “It reflects the weakness of the local road network. Having a single lane carriageway round Newark is a disaster.

“The local infrastructure is already bad and whenever there is a big event, with the sheer volume of traffic, there is going to be trouble.

“It is unfortunate and I am sorry some people had traffic issues.

“I realise if you have a doctor’s or hospital appointment you can’t change it and we did have signs in place three weeks in advance to try to inform people so they could change their route.”

Despite the traffic issue, he said he received positive feedback about the showground and its hosting of the show.

“We have been pleasantly surprised by the number of people that have given us their support and said leaving is a retrograde step,” he said.

“The number of people we have heard that from has buoyed us.”

The Advertiser understands there is disappointment at the showground that Lamma has continued to expand without regard for the traffic situation.

Mr Cliff Preston, Lamma’s event director, said he had sympathy for the showground.

He said Lamma had met all the highways authorities, prepared a detailed traffic plan and employed a traffic management company to try to limit problems.

He said: “We have taken some flak from people who were delayed and we regret that.

“The roundabouts where the A1 and A46 join are a nightmare. We were told to direct everything down the A17, which we did, but that resulted in a blockage.

“I feel sorry for the showground because they are badly served by the road network. They take the flak but it is not really their fault.”

Mr Preston said visitor numbers were similar to last year’s figure of 38,000, a turnout he said he was pleased with given the winter weather.

Visitors and exhibitors who spoke to the Advertiser said they were disappointed the show was leaving Newark.

Mr Simon Hall, manager of the Newark branch of Farmstar, said: “I am sorry to see it go to Peterborough because for us it is local, although I am sure there will be some people who aren’t sorry because of the traffic problems it causes.

“It must bring money into Newark though, with people staying at hotels.”

Mr Cliff Buck, sales and marketing manager of Southwell-based Farmgem, said: “Lincolnshire is the heart of the farming world and this is ideally placed, being so close to the border.

“The jury is out on whether we will continue to come, although with it being such a big show we will probably need to.

“Why has it got to be bigger? For a two-day show it is already difficult to see everything.”

Mr Sam Walle, an agricultural contractor from Cheshire, said: “We will probably not go to Peterborough because of the distance. They say it has outgrown the site but I can’t believe that because there seems to be plenty of room and parking is never a problem.”

However, Mr Jack Harrison, sales coordinator for Ifor Williams Trailers of North Wales, thought Peterborough would be a better location.

He said: “Hopefully going to Peterborough will help with transport links and getting to the show because of problems getting in here.

“I think it is a more up-to-date showground with more roads and a better set-up.”

l More Lamma: Page 32

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