Town Council backs volunteer group seeking to boost Sleaford Christmas Market in 2018

Crowds in Sleaford Market for this year's lights switch-on. Now there is a call to rally round and make the event even better. EMN-171212-120245001
Crowds in Sleaford Market for this year's lights switch-on. Now there is a call to rally round and make the event even better. EMN-171212-120245001

Town Councillors have backed a call to embrace a new wave of support from townspeople keen to build on this year’s Christmas Market.

A number of recommendations placed before them last night (Wednesday) by Couns Mark Graves and Francesca Richards were accepted with only one abstention.

A group called Sleaford Christmas Market 2018 has formed on Facebook encouraging people to add their input to improve the event and traders are recognising the example set by Bristol Arcade this year where it independently boosted footfall by over 60 per cent with the addition of extra stalls, a Santa’s Grotto and musical entertainment to develop a festive atmosphere.

Councillors Graves and Richards proposed the council engages with the Facebook group, inviting a representative to the event debriefing meeting.

Coun Graves said at the meeting: “The biggest positive that came out of this year’s market was the formation of a group of residents willing to assist in this market. We should emrace that opportunity as soon as we possibly can.”

They would like to look at the market’s organisation and explore alternative formats such as an evening only, a whole weekend, involving the Farmer’s Market and seeking to coincide with the NCCD’s craft market. They would also like to study successful market formats elsewhere.

The market has gone through a number of guises over the years, with varying levels of support from voluntary groups and the Chamber of Commerce. The report said: “The council has become increasingly involved in the Christmas Market organisation... to now finding itself solely responsible both in terms of resource and financial support.”

Coun Graves added that to sustain and improve the Christmas Market, they must re-engage with businesses, organisations and the community and people’s renewed energy and enthusiasm to get actively involved “must be embraced”.

The council will also explore the feasibility of facilitating the organisation of some sort of Santa fun run.

Coun Ken Fernandes suggested following other authorities’ example and holding the run off roads to save having to handle road closures.

Coun David Suiter suggested the run should incldue a donation to the Mayor’s chosen charities, adding that volunteers should be welcomed and properly trained.

Coun Graves said the issues of properly funding the volunteer group would have to be ironed out, but did not want that to be a “brick wall”, instead helping to facilitate the process.

Coun Melody Shanahan-Kluth added that it was the first year where she had noticed a huge upsurge in willingness to help the Christmas Marker, saying: “We would be idiots not to take them up on it.”

Coun Charlesworth warned against the council taking on too much of the commercial risk.