March 15, 2023 8.00 pm This story is over 15 months old

“Good luck to them”: Council leader on Lincoln Christmas market poaching bids

“It isn’t something you can organise easily or overnight”

Council leader Ric Metcalfe has wished councils looking to steal Lincoln’s Christmas Market “good luck” but warned “there are no easy wins here”.

The City of Lincoln leadership decided to cancel the 40-year-old traditional market earlier this year and will re-allocate the £260,000 it sets aside annually to cushion any budget deficits into a wider range of events throughout the year.

However, since the announcement authorities including those in the South East Lincolnshire Council’s Partnership of Boston, East Lindsey and South Holland as well as further afield such as Ashfield, have confirmed they are looking to attract stallholders to their own events.

Councillor Nigel Welton, economic portfolio holder for Boston Borough Council, recently confirmed his desire for Boston to “become the hub town in Lincolnshire for Christmas celebrations”.

Following a meeting on Tuesday night which examined the reasons behind the decision in depth, Councillor Ric Metcalfe, the leader of the City of Lincoln Council, said: “good luck to all in any of those areas”.

“They will, I’m sure if they don’t know it already, realise that mounting a Christmas Market on anything like the scale we developed ours over 40 years – it isn’t something you can organise easily or overnight.

A meeting of the council’s scrutiny committee examined the decision in detail. | Image: Daniel Jaines

“I think they’ll quickly realise there are no easy wins here. It requires a lot of work, planning and money and a certain amount of risk taking which public authorities have to be willing to make in terms of public safety and financially.

“Good luck to them, it will be a gain to Lincolnshire collectively. Given that we’re going to attempt to do something a bit different I don’t see that we should be in competition with neighbours, and in any case, a bit of healthy competition may not be a bad thing.”

He did, however, suggest that there might not be enough time to organise something of a similar scale, with Lincoln’s own officers having previously begun the organising the next event as soon as the last one finished.

The call-in was made by Councillors Tom Dyer and Rachel Storer. | Image: Daniel Jaines

Councillor Tom Dyer, who called in the decision to be discussed on Tuesday, said, however, that Lincoln’s council had “shot themselves in the foot”.

He said that if the council had consulted on their decision last year there could have been continuity and a smoother transfer to the new events schedule.

“I can’t blame areas like Boston and Ashfield putting forward alternative options. Lincolnshire is a beautiful place and I’m sure people will enjoy going to Boston for whatever they have but it’s Lincoln’s loss.”

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