Town Councillors are being urged to embrace a growing wave of support from the public and businesspeople keen to improve and build on this year’s Christmas Market.
A number of recommendations for the way forward have been placed on tonight’s (Wednesday) Town Council agenda by Councillors Mark Graves and Francesca Richards.
The Standard has talked to a number of traders keen to ‘do their bit’ to support the council’s efforts in organising a better market after criticism from some quarters about the lack of road closures and stalls in parts of the town and the lack of a fun run due to organisational issues.
They see the need for all areas to contribute as it is in everyone’s interests to boost footfall and increase prosperity in the town.
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.
Al Henderson of Henderson’s Cocoa House said it would be easy to replicate their success in other areas such as White Hart Mews, Millstream Square and the Riverside Precinct.
He said: “You could devolve some of it to separate entities and it could be managed separately.
“It is the busiest I have ever seen the Arcade and I would want to be on board again next year. It didn’t cost much to put on a show and the landlord helped. We decorated it up to make a good atmosphere and put on some chocolate workshops and demonstrations.”
Mesut Talabiyik, partner in Tablez Bistro on Millstream Square, said he would be keen to contribute to boost footfall through the precinct outside his business too.
Couns Graves and Richards are proposing that the council actively engages with the Facebook group, inviting a representative to join the debriefing meeting from this year’s event. They would like to look at the organisation of the event and explore alternative formats such as solely an evening event, a whole weekend event, involving the Farmer’s Market and seeking to coincide the Christmas Market with the Gifted craft market at NCCD which took place last weekend.
They would also like to study other successful market formats while cooperating with other organisations in the town to improve the event.
Coun Graves in his report said the market has gone through a number of guises over the years, with varying levels of support and funding from different voluntary and council organisations.
The report said: “The council has become increasingly involved in the Christmas Market organisation, latterly moving from a role of facilitating and propviding support, wrestling with its independence, to now finding itself solely responsible both in terms of resource and financial support.”
It added that Christmas lights in the town had also improved to credible levels.
Coun Graves states: “If we are to both sustain and improve the Christmas market, given that the council must be financially prudent and amongst ourselves we have limited resources, we must re-emngage with both businesses and other organisations but first and foremost the community itself to help us achieve this.”
He believed that the energy and enthusiasm with ideas and willingness to get actively involved “must be embraced at the earliest opportunity”.