Are facilities and transport links costing Sheffield chance to host major events?

The BeerX trade conference in Sheffield
The BeerX trade conference in Sheffield
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Sheffield could be missing out on major events because it lacks a large city centre conference venue, a business leader has warned.

BeerX, one of the UK's biggest beer trade conferences, is leaving Sheffield for Liverpool, with organisers quoting the facilities and transport links at its new home as factors in the move.

Richard Wright, executive director of SheffieldChamber.

Richard Wright, executive director of SheffieldChamber.

Richard Wright, executive director at Sheffield Chamber of Commerce, said he was 'disappointed' by the news but could understand the reasoning.

"This decision highlights two things we've been going on about for ages: we probably need a better conference and exhibition venue near the city centre, and our rail and road links aren't good enough," he said.

"What it says is that Sheffield can host things up to a certain size, but even then we're limited within the city centre. The Arena's a long way out of town, and you're away from what actually is a really nice city centre but doesn't have the right facilities to keep something like BeerX here.

"I'm not saying one swallow makes a summer but it does make you ask the question 'would a new conference and exhibition centre be viable?'

"As for transport links, Sheffield is chronically served by train services, hence all the work we're putting into things like HS2 and HS3. I know they're a long way away but you have to start somewhere.

"I'm really disappointed because Sheffield has a great reputation for brewing. This decision isn't about us being good at brewing. It's about what facilities we've got for an event of this size."

Mr Wright added that while Liverpool had invested in conference facilities, Sheffield had spent money in other areas, like on its Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre and the Olympic Legacy Park.

BeerX, which this year included the BeerAlive! festival, had taken place in Sheffield since 2013. It was held at iceSheffield over four days in March.

Dave Pickersgill, of Sheffield and District CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale), said it was 'positive' such a large trade conference was moving around the country, and Sheffield Beer Week was in a position to fill the gap left by its absence.

"After five successful years in Sheffield with year-on-year growth, we wish BeerX well in its new venue. It is positive that such a large trade conference is moving round the country," he said.

"It is also positive that the locally-organised Sheffield Beer Week is now in a position to use an increasing number of local events to fill the gap left by the absence of the BeerX publicly-accessible beer festival."

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