LANDLORDS have spoken out about the weekend violence in York – as police dismissed it as ‘largely minor in nature.’ Jason Hawkins, of the Three Tuns in Coppergate, claimed the city centre was “like a cross between Beirut and Blackpool for most of Saturday” as a number of serious fights broke out, and he questioned York Racecourse’s decision to extend the Ebor Festival to Saturday.

In another incident in Coppergate the window of Marks & Spencer in St Mary’s Square was smashed.

Andy Innes, manager of the Three Cranes in St Sampson’s Square, claimed business was hit as some customers stayed away from the city centre to avoid getting caught up in trouble.

But North Yorkshire Police said the 60 arrests made by officers on Friday and Saturday were across the whole of York, and not just the city centre, and said the arrest number was exactly the same as the previous weekend.

“Officers dealt with a number of incidents of disorder in the city centre but they were largely minor in nature and nobody was seriously injured,” said a force spokesman.

Leading City of York councillors backed the Ebor’s move to Saturday. Council leader James Alexander said the Ebor provided an important economic boost to York which he did not wish to jeopardise, although public order problems had to be minimised as much as possible in future.

Tory leader Ian Gillies said the violence related to a specific element of people who had been to the races earlier who could not, or would not, control themselves. Councillor Carol Runciman, Lib Dem leader, said the switch to Saturday gave an opportunity for a good family day out.

Councillor Sandy Fraser, crime and community safety cabinet member, said a senior officer had told him quite a number of arrests over the weekend had not been racegoers; however, he was seriously concerned at reports of weapons being brought in, and he trusted the authorities would deal firmly with anyone found with weapons.

York Racecourse spokesman James Brennan said some of the incidents happened eight hours after the race meeting finished, and said those involved were therefore not racegoers but simply people out in the city.

He said York’s race meetings gave a £58 million boost to the York economy each year, with Saturday’s event providing trade for everyone from local milliners to hotels.