Some traders are unhappy with a one-way pedestrian system to be put in place at this year’s Lincoln Christmas Market between December 6 and 9.
Organisers City of Lincoln Council are introducing the new system up Steep Hill and back downhill via Drury Lane and Michaelgate as part of crowd control measures.
Last year saw 350,000 people come to Lincoln for the festive celebration, prompting concerns about overcrowding at peak times during the market.
But shops in The Strait and Steep Hill area included in the one-way system say this will be bad for business as they would see reduced footfall.
Based on an independent review by the Emergency Planning Unit, the City Council decided to make changes to the layout and crowd control measures.
John Latham, Director of Development and Environmental Services at the City Council, said: “Public safety is paramount and in view of last year’s unprecedented numbers of visitors to the market we have had to look at how we manage the crowds.”
The market area has been expanded with stalls spread over a wider area to ease crowding at previous bottlenecks, as the majority of visitors enter the market from the north of the city.
Organisers believe the new system and layout will make it easier for visitors to move around and enjoy the wide range of attractions, and that they will be better for traders.
“Pro-active crowd management has avoided any serious incidents on Steep Hill in the past but we don’t want to wait for something to go wrong, so we anticipate problems and put appropriate measures in place,” John Latham added.
“We believe that by providing a more enjoyable experience people will be more likely to linger, not only at stalls but also in existing businesses throughout the city centre.
“The main aim behind the council organising the market is to provide an out of season boost for local businesses as well as representing a fantastic marketing opportunity for the city as a whole.”
The council said it will continue to look at ways to support businesses in the Strait and Steep Hill areas throughout the duration of the market.
Lack of consultation?
Despite meetings between businesses and the council in order to voice concerns about the changes to the Christmas Market in July, October and November, plus a survey delivered to companies in the area on October 11, some claim they were not properly consulted over alterations to the system.
John Shipton, whose wife and daughter run Mono Boutique on The Strait said: “Shop owners of The Strait, Steep Hill and surrounding area were never consulted by the Events officers or the officer involved responsible of Regeneration and Tourism for the City of Lincoln Council.”
Chairman of Bottom of the Hill Association (BoTH) Richard Baxter said: “Regarding our meeting with Lincoln Christmas Market Team, approximately 30 businesses from The Strait to Castle Square attended the meeting.
“…businesses, from The Strait to Castle Square, are very worried — and I cannot express enough the word worried — about the one way system put in place for this year, and especially without being properly asked what we all thought of the plan.
“The plan is for people to walk up The Strait and Steep Hill and walk through the Castle, Eastgate, Bailgate then be blocked off by this barrier from tourist information to the church, then walk to the Lincoln Hotel around the eastern side of the Cathedral and then back through castle square, then walking back down Michaelgate to join the High street through St Mary’s Square.”
He added: “We have suggested to the team to see if we can change their decision after the first two days takings, so it is a case of seeing what happens.”