Local Democracy Weekly: Making the Lincoln Christmas Market loss-proof

Seven months ago, City of Lincoln Council officials sat around a table with a plan – to make the Christmas Market the “jewel in the crown” of the festive season.

It was part of a vision to create a “brand standard” for the annual event, expanding it further, tying in other attractions and bringing in more sponsorship.

Also included in the plan was ideas to cover costs and bring in more income, though officials acknowledged that this would be difficult.

“Spending a lot of money on year one on big-ticket items is not going to be realistic when we have to balance the budget and year-on-year contractor costs are going up,” said Simon Colburn, assistant director for health and environment.

The 10-year plan for the future of the market is hoped to help expand the event, which made an £82,320 loss last year.

It was the biggest deficit the city council had faced in six years.

The 2017 event was marred by bad weather, which led to a final day closure and ultimately a £53,750 loss.

Prior to that, the market made a profit in 2016 but then produced successive losses in the six years leading up the surplus making year.

The city council maintains that the market attracts visitors from all over who bring a millions of pounds worth of economic benefit to the city.

No one doubts that and anyone who has stepped foot in the castle grounds, the cathedral or walked up Steep Hill during the festivities would argue that it’s not a seminal event.

However, the balance sheet does not lie and last year’s market was hit by a drop in park and ride numbers, policing costs and a stallholder price freeze.

According to the authority, next year’s event has already received more than 300 stall applications.

The Victoriana theme will also tie in with other events around the city.

It also ties in with the grand plan for the market which those council bosses mused about in March ahead of the first year of a 10-year vision.

But the important part will come in July next year, when the final balance sheet is published. — CALVIN ROBINSON


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