February 22, 2023 5.00 pm This story is over 14 months old

Nottinghamshire jumps to poach Lincoln Christmas Market stalls

Ashfield thinks it can hold “bigger and better event”

Nottinghamshire is already looking to poach stall holders from Lincoln Christmas Market just a day after city leaders cancelled the event.

Senior councillors at the Independent-led Ashfield District Council want to upgrade their own market offering this winter and plan to write to affected stallholders to take up space at its events.

Council leader Councillor Jason Zadrozny called the market “so successful” for bringing more than 320,000 people to Lincoln over four days.

“It has been a huge success for the city and for economic regeneration,” he told the authority’s cabinet on Tuesday.

He said he had tasked officers to look at whether there could be a larger Christmas event in Ashfield.

“This could incorporate a large number of the now-at-a-loss stallholders from Lincoln City,” he said.

“Officers are going to look at options to see if Ashfield can accommodate what Lincoln now doesn’t think is viable there.

“I think it would be a great economic regenerator, probably for Sutton if we can work it out as we have park spaces like Sutton Lawn or the town centre that could accommodate it.”

He said they might not get 500 stalls, but that it could be “something bigger and better”.

Labour-run City of Lincoln Council voted to drop the market after 40 years in favour of smaller events at an executive committee on Monday night.

Instead it wants to spread its £260,000 budget across a series of smaller events.

It came following concerns about overcrowding leading to the event “becoming unsafe”.

Leaders said the market became “uncomfortably” busy, leading to an impact on the visitor experience.

The authority also reported an expected £80,000 loss on the 2022 event.

However, the controversial move led to opposing politicians labelling the Lincoln authority as “Grinches” and “Scrooges”.

More than 3,800 people have signed a petition to save the market and a public meeting last week saw 100 people gather to air their concerns.

When confirming plans to close the market on Monday, the Lincoln councillors voted to consult widely on the new events plan before they were confirmed.

Council leader Councillor Ric Metcalfe said the decison was not made “lightly, impulsively or without proper thought”.

“We know the affection that the Christmas market is held in and how important it is.”

However, he said there is a “compelling case” to be made for changes.

“If it goes on growing at this current rate it certainly will become unsafe,” he added.

More than 320,000 people attended the Christmas market in 2022, 70,000 more visitors than its ideal 250,000 limit. Between 2019 and 2022, visitor numbers increased by 40%.

There were 577,000 ‘people movements’ through Castle Square, visiting more than 200 stalls, with more than 11,700 cars at the Park and Ride.

City of Lincoln Council did not wish to comment further when questioned on Ashfield’s decision.

— Additional reporting by Andrew Topping, Local Democracy Reporter (Nottinghamshire)

ALSO READ: Why the Lincoln Christmas Market was axed

ALSO READ: “Grinches”: Reactions to Lincoln Christmas Market cancelled

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