EDITOR – It has been interesting to receive all the complaints regarding the Christmas Market. Some of these complaints have been abusive and threatening at times.
A few facts everyone needs to know regarding who is responsible for the Christmas Market and how the town council has had to come to the rescue:
The market has been organised by the town’s Chamber of Trade in the past. Members were people who had businesses in the town and also those who felt they had a commitment to the town. It was of benefit to the businesses in town to have this market as it would bring much-needed footfall into the town at a time when business was slack.
The local Chamber of Trade no longer exists; it was merged with Lincoln due the lack of commitment within the town.
In 2009 there was a threat that the Christmas Market was not going to happen. A decision was made by the council that we should show commitment to this event and try to get an organisation on board to help.
I was approached by a member of the Round Table to see if we could work in partnership on this event. We have to understand that there are two parts to this market – the market itself, which is on the Market Place where the council had no involvement in the past, and the Mayor’s Charity event, which is held in the Festival Hall, the part the council ran.
This was borne out of the Mayor’s Charity Coffee Morning that was held in the past.
That year a lot of hard work went into this event and it worked well. There were people putting in a vast amount of hours. Remember, the few people who were involved did this to raise money for charity to support people less fortunate than themselves and not for what they could get out of it.
Last year the market was cancelled due to heavy snow and ice. God’s fault, not the council’s. Phew!
This brings us on to this year and what went wrong. The council asked for help from interested parties; we did have interest but this didn’t materialise. This happened just four weeks before the date of the market.
We rushed out invites to traders but only a few replied. With only a handful of people volunteering to help, it was decided to hold it at the Festival.
During all this we were working on the Christmas lights; again it ended up with three councillors and a member of the public. Again, the council had people pushing to have the lights up. We even had a letter threatening legal action if we didn’t put them up. True!
Again, a small group of four people organised events to raise money, going cap in hand for funds to purchase the new lights. They look fantastic. People are on to us already, wanting to know when the rest of the town is going to have them.
There are the same few people in the town who are involved with putting on other events in the town throughout the year.
Is it the council’s responsibility to put on these events? You don’t see other councils doing it. There are organisations within the community that do this, like in Caistor, where the whole community is involved on different things.
If the Christmas Market is to happen next year we need people to come forward.
It’s a shame that the town council is criticised for trying to do its best when no-one else is prepared help. Remember, we are all volunteers and are willing to pick up the gauntlet and have ago.
To look on the bright side, the evening was a great success with the charities. The mayor’s charity stall made £313.
Many thanks to all who put the hard work in, so the less fortunate can benefit.
Coun Ken Bridger
Mayor of a council that is prepared to have ago