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Profiteering allegation aimed at Pickering war weekend
THE Railway In Wartime weekend in Pickering has come under fire for ‘ripping off’ visitors with increased prices and imposing admission charges for admission to the town’s station.
Claims have been made that many traders put up their prices for the event to ‘cash in on the weekend’.
Local resident and re-encactor Paul Simpson told the Gazette: “It came to my notice that certain traders had put their prices up just for the weekend and when asked why, the reply was, ‘I am making the most of it’.
Mr Simpson said: “The North Yorkshire Moors Railway also seems to be cashing in on the weekend by charging re-enactors £1 a person to go on the station. These are the very people who have travelled many miles to come to the event to take part and who the public have come to see.”
Mr Simpson said the people who left feeling they had been ‘ripped off’ would surely pass their feelings onto others.
“This is one of the largest war weekends in Europe – don’t let us lose it,” he said.
“Don’t put prices up just to make a quick profit. Let all the visitors go away with a positive attitude – remember, during the war profiteering was a criminal offence.”
Ian Meadows, a retired lieutenant with the Royal Naval patrol service, from Bicester in Oxfordshire, and his wife, had visited the event for the first time.
He told the Gazette: “I was absolutely appalled at what I saw and heard. Saturday started with a one-hour traffic queue, then I was directed into a very muddy field.
“I tried to explain that I wished to park nearer and that I am now not so good on my legs, and the gentleman told me that I “have to park here and pay to be bussed in”. I tried explaining again but the person was not listening, so I drove around him and found a parking place for £5 all day.”
Mr Meadows said that they had spoken to some re-enactors and were told that the event had been spoiled by no longer having the stalls dotted around the town.
“They said that all the stalls were in a field two-and-a-half miles away and you had to pay to get in. In fact, you had to pay for everything.
“It seems that all the re-enactors I spoke to take great umbrage in having to pay to get on to the station when before it was free. They told me ‘my original uniform and knowledge, was my ticket in. If they think I am going to pay hundreds of pounds to get this uniform right, research it and still pay so someone else can make money out of me, when if it was not for us they would not even have a 1940s event, well they can think again’.”
Mr Meadows said: “I know I speak for many others, I was saddened by the whole weekend, and thought that it was very amateurish, and unprofessional. I am concerned for the future of this event, as it seems that the town, and the railway relies on it to gain money for the following year.”
Danielle Ramsey, North Yorkshire Moors Railway marketing manager, said: “Following the largest Railway in Wartime weekend we’ve ever staged, we are, of course, disappointed that some of our visitors’ experiences were not as good as we would hope, but our feedback suggests that these are a small minority of the thousands who attended and had a fantastic time.
“We did make some major changes to the event this year to help cope with the annually-increasing number of visitors, including using Pickering showground for a park & ride service on the recommendation of North Yorkshire Police. As a result, this year, traffic in the town was lighter, enabling those not participating in the weekend to move around far more easily.”
Danielle said that generally, the park & ride was well-received, although the ground was wetter than they had hoped. “The £5 fee not only covered the parking and bus ride into town, but also gave access to a large number of high-quality stalls, which, we believe, offers excellent value for money. “The official Railway in Wartime programme included details of all the events and was available throughout the weekend at the entrance of Pickering station for just £1, which also included access to the station for anyone without a train ticket or a re-enactor pass, which was available to all pre-registered re-enactment groups. “ Danielle added: “We are already planning next year’s event and will take on board the constructive feedback we have received to ensure that we continue to improve this event.”