THE Great Yorkshire Fringe festival will not be returning to York this summer - after the founder slammed the management of the city centre.

Organiser Martin Witts said he had come to the conclusion that "until a well managed and efficient city centre management is implemented" a festival the size of the Fringe could not "thrive" and "does not have a place in York".

Sean Bullick, managing director of Make it York, the organisation in charge of the city centre, said he was sorry the Fringe would not be returning this year - but left the door open for a potential return of the event.

City of York Council said that the local authority was sorry to hear that the festival would not be back, but said the council had been “incredibly supportive", and done everything it could to "make it a success”.

The news comes just a few months after Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre confirmed that it would also not be returning this summer.

Mr Witts said that the festival had had five fabulous years in York since it started in 2014.

He added: “Thank you to all that have been involved in the Fringe over the last five years, it has been a privilege to work with you. We will continue to invest in the local cultural scene in York.

“Our experience of sponsoring, curating and managing an event in this small city of ours has led us to the conclusion that until a well managed and efficient city centre management is implemented that a festival of our size cannot thrive and does not have a place in York.”

A spokesman for the Fringe added: “The biggest thank you of all to our wonderful patrons, York residents and visitors alike who have visited us and the city of York for the last five years, we hope that we have given you some amazing memories.”

Mr Bullick added: “The Great Yorkshire Fringe was a valued addition to the city’s diverse events calendar and we are sorry to hear it will not be returning next year.

“It is disappointing that the organisers feel this way as over the last five years Make it York have offered significant marketing and operational support for this festival.

"However, we understand there have been some infrastructure challenges connected to putting on an event of this scale in a city centre space.

“We would welcome the opportunity to discuss options to bring the event back to the city in future years as part of the ambitious programme of events we are developing.”

Former York Press arts editor, Charles Hutchinson, said that the news added further concern to the future of arts and culture in York.

He said: “It is a really sad decision but I think it is best for Martin if he wants to utilise his special skills without being restrained by the city centre management red tape.

“But it does leave a gaping hole, and I’m not sure what will replace it.”

Charlie Croft, assistant director for communities and culture at City of York Council, said: “Since the Fringe’s organisers first approached us we have been incredibly supportive of the festival, doing everything we can to try and ensure a smooth running of the festival in one of York’s busiest streets and to help make it a commercial success.

"They have been a welcome addition to York’s established and thriving cultural scene which we and Make It York will continue to develop and add to with the many innovative organisations wanting to put on cultural events in our city.

“There is always something going on in the city which visiting attractions themselves often comment on.

"We are sorry to hear that the Yorkshire Fringe won’t be returning in 2020, but the city’s vibrant cultural offer continues and we’re talking to new people and companies all the time.”

Mr Witts, who took his first steps in the entertainment business working alongside York actor Mark Addy in the York Theatre Royal carpentry team, set up the Great Yorkshire Fringe in Parliament Street with street food and coffee, gin and craft beer stalls either side of the pathway, and the ever-present double-decker bus, Bob The Box Office.

At one end was the White Rose Rotunda Spiegeltent, at the other The Turn Pot tent, and in the middle, the star-lit Teapot, where the festival presented comedy, music, variety acts, magic, theatre and children’s entertainment each July.

For last summer’s festival, which ran from July 18 to 28, the Fringe spread out into more locations than ever.

They included the Grand Opera House, York Barbican, The Arts Barge on the River Ouse, 41 Monkgate and The Basement at City Screen in Coney Street.

Notable acts over the Fringe's five years included German ambassador of comedy Henning Wehn, Pocklington-born podcaster Richard Herring, comedian Reginald D Hunter, ex-Monty Python legend Michael Palin, Tony Slattery, Omid Djalili, Jerry Sadowitz, Al Murray: The Pub Landlord, Austentatious and S!it-Faced Shakespeare.