May 3, 2023 3.30 pm This story is over 10 months old

Prime Minister bemoans Lincoln Christmas Market cancellation

Council leader says PM is “ill-informed”

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said he is “disappointed” by the decision to cancel Lincoln Christmas Market.

This was in response to Lincoln’s Conservative MP Karl McCartney question during Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday.

Mr McCartney accused the Labour leadership of the City Council of “destroying” the 40 year reputation of the market “and the Christmas cheer Lincoln benefits from annually”.

“The dereliction of their role duty to take the easiest option behind closed doors in secret and cancelling the market shows Labour’s neglect and disregard for small local businesses, charities and entrepreneurs,” he said.

“Labour’s councillors should be ashamed of their actions,” he added in the House of Commons.

The long-running festival was axed by City of Lincoln Council in February over concerns about overcrowding and its escalating cost.

Leaders feared the event would become unsafe if it continued growing past 350,000 visitors across four days.

Instead, the authority is to use the £260,000 budget for the Christmas market for a series of smaller events throughout the year including an extended, but smaller, festive offering across several weeks.

The move came under fire from local businesses, residents and opposition councillors due mainly to a lack of consultation ahead of the decision.

Lincoln MP Karl McCartney during PMQs on Wednesday.

Responding to Mr McCartney, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: “I share my right honourable friend’s disappointment that after a decision taken by the Labour run council behind, as he said, closed doors, there will no longer be a Christmas Market in Lincoln, ending its 40 years of history.

“Lincoln deserves better,” the PM concluded.

City of Lincoln Council Leader Ric Metcalfe defended the council’s decision.

Councillor Metcalfe said: “Mr Sunak needs to familiarise himself with the safety advice received by the council before making such ill-informed remarks.”

He said any suggestion the council should be ashamed of its decision was “just silly”.

“The council has done, and is still doing, an enormous amount to promote our city.

“We are absolutely committed to doing everything we can to grow the city’s economy and we will be developing over time a very ambitious range of new events that will attract people to the city.

“Leaving aside the numbers of people who were attracted each year to the Christmas market, we are already a highly successful tourist destination for goodness sake – we attract 3 million visitors every year.”

Labour leader Councillor Ric Metcalfe | Photo: CoLC

Labour MP candidate Hamish Falconer also said he was “stunned” by the comments and implied there were double standards when compared to the government’s own decision to house 1,500 asylum seekers at RAF Scampton – potentially ending hopes for a £300m investment on the site.

The decision has caused outrage with local people who fear the impact of the move on their communities and the future of the site.

“We need an MP and a Prime Minister who thinks about the consequences of their actions here: I’m happy to take them both through the Scampton plans and the safety advisory group report on the Christmas Market if they want to engage seriously with what our city needs,” said Mr Falconer.

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