February 16, 2024 8.30 pm

Lincoln ‘shot itself in the foot’ by cancelling the Christmas market, shoppers say

People have backed the city’s MP in his campaign to bring it back

By Local Democracy Reporter

Residents and shoppers in Lincoln city centre argue that the city has “shot itself in the foot” by cancelling its historic Christmas Market.

Almost a year has passed since the Labour-led City of Lincoln Council cancelled the popular four-day event over concerns of overcrowding, yet both locals and visitors continue to express their disappointment.

The market, which celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2022, attracted around 320,000 visitors, requiring costly crowd control measures for future safety.

As the city’s Conservative MP Karl McCartney campaigns for the event’s return, the Labour council maintains its focus on a new events programme. However, they have offered staff support to advise anyone wishing to create a new market for the city.

Lincoln Christmas Market 2016 | Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

In the city’s Cornhill Quarter, 75-year-old Hazel described the event as “a victim of its own success,” while proposing solutions to the overcrowding issue.

“I think it needs to be spread out over a longer period of time and perhaps scaled down a bit,” she suggested.

Avid visitor Archie Deacon, 63, expressed his continued disappointment with the council’s decision, noting that despite its issues, the event still managed to attract hundreds of thousands of visitors to the city.

He remarked: “There were various issues with the one-way system and so on, but it was a big draw.”

In the past week, the local Conservative group has pledged to revisit and potentially restore the event if they gain leadership following this year’s local elections on May 2.

As a regular Tory voter up until the last election, Archie found this particularly “annoying,” saying he’s not sure how he would vote with that in mind. He questioned: “Would they be able to carry it through?”

Raymond Shaw, 66, from Binbrooke, also visited the market on a regular basis, saying he used to come up on Thursdays for lunchtime, then by the time it got busy, he would have already gone around it all.

He labeled the council’s decision to cancel it “disgusting.” He added: “They don’t realise how much revenue it brings in, not just for the businesses at the top, but for the ones at the bottom of the hill as well. It’s stupid.”

Advocating for its return, Raymond remarked: “I think it should be reopened again.”

Adrian Toyne said he was divided with the cancellation: “I think Lincoln has lost out by not having it.

“I don’t quite understand why we wouldn’t want to put on something as successful as that. I don’t think there is such a thing as too much success, but for ourselves, personally, we live in the south of the city so it doesn’t affect us.”

Acknowledging that the event was “very busy,” he added that he would still occasionally go, concluding: “I would say Lincoln has shot itself in the foot not running it.”

Kayleigh Pilcher, 62, took a similar stance, noting that she hasn’t attended in a number of years simply because of how crowded it could get.

“It was a shame [it was cancelled] because it brings in lots of visitors to the city and obviously lots of revenue to the businesses at the top end of town, but it was too big. You just couldn’t move.”

When asked if the political promise to bring it back had altered how she would vote this election season, she said she was still undecided. “They’re all as bad as one another,” continued Kayleigh.

Iian Jubbs, landlord of the Treaty of Commerce | Photo: James Turner

Treaty of Commerce landlord Iian Jubbs said that the market wasn’t ‘massively beneficial’ to his business, although it used to bring a lot of customers into his pub.

He noted: “It used to be [beneficial] many years ago when people came off the train, but, they seem to just get direct them up the hill now, we used to get very busy.”

Looking ahead, Iian is working alongside Dave Cutten, owner of ABC Clearance, to reintroduce a smaller version of the market to the city. While the two aren’t certain about the scale they can achieve, Iian envisions “quality stalls” spread across the entire city center, akin to the markets in Nottingham and Sheffield.