A Hitchin eatery has criticised Hitchin Business Improvement District (BID) for allowing local businesses to "suffer" during Hitchin Food Fest.

This year's Food Fest is set to take place in Hitchin's Market Square over the coming weekend, from midday until 6pm on Saturday, September 2 and from 10am until 4pm on Sunday, September 3.

But now Chilli B's, an eatery in the town centre, has suggested that the event is damaging to local businesses.

In a post on Facebook, a spokesperson for Chilli B's agreed that BID's overall work "is important" and commended their work in looking after the town, but noted that the majority of the stalls at the Food Fest are not from Hitchin.

They pointed out that the BID "is solely funded by the businesses of Hitchin ... the ones that are here 365 days a year, paying our rent and all the other bits to be part of this great town", and said that it is businesses like Chilli B's that "will suffer this weekend, because the concentration of the people coming into town will focus on the Food Fest and its stall holders".

According to Chilli B's, eateries as well as butchers, jewellery shops and other businesses "see their takings down considerably" during the Food Fests, "as people coming to the town don’t see them because the stalls take away the eye from the shop frontage and because parking can be difficult, some locals won’t bother coming into town".

Chilli B's hope their statement will enable people to "understand that the BID is funded by us businesses" and encourage them to "spare some time to visit those that serve you all year, every year".

Chilli B's is located in Bucklersbury, and has been run by Bill and Sharon since it first opened in February 2004.

Sharon told the Comet that Fridays and Saturdays are their "bumper days", increasing the detrimental impact of the Food Fest on their takings.

In previous years, Chilli B's had remained closed when the Food Fest was in town, but last year they decided to open - and found that their takings were down to "less than half" their normal amount.

Sharon says "it was a bit of a disaster", and continues: "I can see the value that they [BID] bring to the town, and I'm not saying that it's all bad, I'm just saying that you need to pick your events more wisely to draw people to the town - let's not always do food because it's an easy option."

Sharon and Bill are keen to retire, and so put Chilli B's - which they say is "thriving" - up for sale last year at an asking price of £200,000, with a turnover of approximately £352,000 per annum.

In the meantime, their eatery remains open daily for breakfast, brunch, lunch, cakes and baked goods, and also offers a wide selection of hot and cold drinks.

Following Chilli B's statement, Tom Hardy, manager of Hitchin BID, said: "I do sympathise with the need for the public to support small businesses during this time of economic challenges.

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"My team have worked hard over the years to deliver a series of projects and initiatives that create a vibrant, clean and safe environment for businesses to trade in.

"Our events calendar is carefully considered to offer the public a mix of exciting activities throughout the year.

"It is always tricky to find the balance between events that the public want to see and what the businesses want.

"The Food Fest is no exception and we have given all town centre eateries the opportunity to have a presence at the event, offered a slot in the taster tent and encouraged them to handout promotional material.

"Directional posters and banner will be erected to remind visitors where food businesses are located, and town centre eat maps will be available on stalls at the event.

"We encourage all businesses to take advantage of the increased footfall at these events and use it as a promotional opportunity."