Price freeze for returning Christmas market traders agreed

City councillors supported plans to give returning traders to this year’s Lincoln Christmas Market a price freeze.

Members of the City of Lincoln Council voted through a proposal to freeze prices for stallholders planning to return to the event for 2017 while increasing prices for new traders by 8%.

Park and ride and coach fees will also be frozen at last year’s prices under the proposals.

But Conservative councillors said that the plan to increase the cost for newcomers was a problem.

Councillor Hilton Spratt said: “We understand why costs have to go up in order to breakeven.

“The problem is that the 8% increase is almost treble the rate of inflation.”

The first day of the 2017 market brought thousands to the Cathedral Quarter. Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

He added that the charge should be halved and proposed an amendment to charge new traders 4%.

But Labour council leader Councillor Ric Metcalfe said that the plan would only affect a small number of stallholders.

“The proposed increase will only affect less than 20% of stallholders,” he said.

“What we are proposing is that the vast majority of traders will be revisiting and will receive a price freeze.”

The Conservative amendment to halve the basic charge for a stall was lost.

The move means that the basic rate for a stall in the castle grounds this Christmas would be increased from £1,814 to £1,959 for new stallholders.

The cheapest stall price would be in The Lawn area where new traders looking for a basic 3×3 stall would be charged £1,469, an increase of £109 on last year.

The council estimates that the price freeze and increase for new stallholders would generate around £417,000 with a total income of £605,000 when including other costs.

Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Moves to implement the price freeze come after the council closed the Sunday of last year’s market due to expected heavy snowfall.

Closing the market on the final day saw a total increased expenditure of £56,180, according to a council report.

Simon Walters, Assistant Director Health and Environment Services said that the additional amount was unexpected.

He said: “Last year’s Lincoln Christmas Market was unprecedented in that we had to spend an additional amount on continuing to ensure our visitors had an enjoyable and safe experience.

“In light of incidents that had happened at large-scale events throughout Europe over the previous year, we took the decision to increase the security arrangements.

“The safety of our visitors is of utmost importance to us, and if we have to increase our security at the Lincoln Christmas Market to ensure that everyone has a safe and enjoyable event, then we do so without hesitation.

“This extra cost, which has been seen in an increase in overall policing and vehicle security barriers has therefore translated into an operational loss for the council.

“The Lincoln Christmas Market is a much-loved event, and the  losses incurred in 2017 will not have an effect on the event in the coming years. Indeed we are already well advanced in planning for an even bigger and better market in 2018.”