ANGER has erupted that a popular annual steampunk weekend went ahead despite lockdown.

Residents claim social distancing guidelines and rules governing gatherings were flouted during the weekend, at Haworth.

But organisers this week defended their decision to go-ahead with the activity and said it had given a boost to village businesses hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic.

"I've seen reports that there were 'thousands' of steampunk enthusiasts – there were maybe 175 to 200 participants over the weekend which is a lot less than in normal years," said a spokesman for the organising team.

"Because of the way we dress, we do stick out more.

"I've been involved in the event for a few years now but this time we purposely didn't have specific venues, to avoid anyone congregating.

"We stressed to everyone the importance of following the Covid guidelines, including social distancing. Everybody wore masks to go into buildings and they did try to stick to the rules.

"We certainly did not intend to offend or upset anyone.

"We went ahead with the weekend because so many big events have been cancelled this year and it was giving much-needed support to the traders, who have been finding things tough over the past few months. We spoke to shopkeepers in Main Street and they were quite happy to have us there."

However, one resident – who didn't want to be named publicly – said going ahead with the weekend put people's safety at risk.

"I know of several people locally who have died from coronavirus and various family members who have been struck down with it," she said.

"Myself and other residents are unhappy that this event went ahead given the current situation, with rising infection rates and deaths in the area. It unnecessarily placed people in danger.

"Lots of participants were stood in large groups – mainly around the public houses, cafes and shops – and were not social distancing."

Bradford Council said it had spoken with the organisers.

A spokesman added: "We were unaware of the event beforehand and would not have given it permission to go ahead during the current Covid situation.

“We all need to take responsibility for keeping social interactions to a minimum and it’s all of our shared duty to do that as we tackle the virus."

West Yorkshire Police say officers were patrolling in the area as usual that weekend and monitoring any crowds.

Councillor David Mahon, chairman of Haworth, Cross Roads & Stanbury Parish Council, said he appreciated residents' concerns and that it was "a difficult situation".

He added: "It's not easy to socially distance in Haworth Main Street.

"I know the police were keeping an eye on the situation and I'm sure they would have acted if they had felt it necessary.

"We don't want to stop visitors coming here but I serve on the Haworth Christmas events committee and we've had to cancel all the usual events because we just wouldn't be able to hold them given the current restrictions."

Worth Valley district councillor, Rebecca Poulsen, said: "It's a difficult balance.

"There was no official event and Haworth is still open to visitors.

"Most businesses in Main Street depend on visitors and would welcome people coming provided they stick to the rules.

"I know it is a concern for some residents when they see a lot of people walking by their homes. There has to be a balance between the needs and wishes of residents and visitors. It's important that everyone follows the rules to stop the spread of the virus – whether you live in the village or are visiting."