City of Lincoln Council refuses to revisit decision to cancel annual Christmas market
Council leaders have again refused to revisit their decision to cancel the popular, traditional 40-year-old Christmas market, following pleas from opposition members.
Conservative Councillor Tom Dyer led a motion to the City of Lincoln Council’s full council meeting on Tuesday night, hoping the council might investigate possible alternatives to restore the event’s prestige.
He told councillors: “I want to see Lincoln on a national and global stage, and that’s what we had before we cancelled the Christmas market. It was an extraordinary event that put our city on the map.”
He highlighted the ongoing debate and frustration over the decision, adding that residents were “still astounded that this council cancelled what was one of its biggest success stories.”
“While the council continues to promote its new events programme, it clearly is not a replacement for our Christmas market.
“The new Christmas lights are beautiful, and it was great to see people enjoy the events hosted this year, but they will never replace the Christmas market,” he said.
The opposition members acknowledged the concerns of the market Safety Advisory Group, which revolved around overcrowding, high organisational costs, and the reputational impact on the council.
However, they argued that insufficient consultation and debate with residents, businesses, and other partners had taken place to address these issues and keep the market going.
Councillors again suggested options such as extending the market or making it a ticketed event could be viable with enough effort.
Fellow Conservative Councillor Eddie Strengiel told the chamber: “I believe with proper management, this Christmas market will fly again. It was a great asset to this city.”
There was cross-party support for the motion, with Liberal Democrat Councillors voting in favour of it.
Lib Dem Councillor Martin Christopher said: “We’ve had quite a lot of residents contact us about this issue over the last year.
“The majority of the public in Lincoln, from what I’ve seen, do not want to see the end of this Christmas market.
“Anything’s possible when it comes to safety if you put the time and effort into it.”
However, the council leaders maintained their stance that the market should not go ahead.
Labour Council leader Ric Metcalfe described the motion as “opportunistic” with elections on the horizon next May.
He acknowledged the market’s popularity and economic significance but expressed safety concerns.
“The increasing visitor numbers predicted for future years would have created an unsafe event, with potentially serious implications,” he said.
He added, “We’d had many cases of adverse reaction around overcrowding, and our reputation was starting to suffer.”
He noted that the infrastructure required to make the 2022 event safe was estimated at around £750,000 and would have “increased significantly.”
“No amount of money could make the very constrained Uphill area safe for the predicted increase in crowds and markets.”
Leaders believe their new series of events, including a music concert, an inflatable monster trail, and an upcoming ice sculpture trail, would distribute visitors throughout the year and alleviate capacity issues.
Councillor Naomi Tweddle, who took over the portfolio including the Christmas market from Councillor Neil Murray after its cancellation, told members her ward covered the market area.
“I have only received emails from residents saying ‘please don’t bring it back’,” she said.
She highlighted that the replacement events included “something for everyone” and were free.
She reported that Lincoln Live in September saw a 5% uplift in visitors for that Saturday (17% year-on-year), and the Monster Invasion had 63,324 movements in the city on October 28.
“We received a lot of great feedback from social media. At a business meeting today, businesses expressed satisfaction with the event, noting an increase in their turnover,” she said.
The ice trail, set for December 9 and 10, will include entertainment like stilt walkers, characters from the film Frozen, and a few stalls and attractions in Castle Square.
“It will be a really Christmassy period. We want to encourage people to the Bail but also to the city centre,” said Councillor Tweddle.
Councillor Calum Watt (Labour) added, “It was never as popular in some parts of town with businesses and residents as is sometimes portrayed.
“My part of town never really saw much benefit. Now, businesses there feel much more included.”