Cirencester Christmas market set to be cancelled this year?
CHRISTMAS in Cirencester could be cancelled this year but the town council is skating around the issue.
There was something missing in the approved budget figures at this week’s Cirencester Town Council meeting – Christmas in Cirencester, the name given to the town's Christmas Market event.
In the 2013/14 estimated budget, released in November last year, a figure of £72,000 was included for the Christmas Market and skating rink but this has now been removed.
Christmas lights and around £4,000 worth of festivities are still budgeted for. And a note attached to the budget states that the Christmas event, which has run for the past three years, could be scaled down to make way for the new Market Place revamp.
CTC chief executive officer Andrew Tubb said that despite what the budget might indicate, the council was yet to agree on what type of event would take place this year, although it was possible it could be smaller.
He said a decision would be made in March, following a debrief on last year’s event with contracted event management company Keystone.
According to annual reports, the town council has spent around £350,000 over the past three years on the town's Christmas event, including buying wooden Christmas Market chalets and paying for publicity.
But the customer turnout has failed to meet expectations every year.
Annual report figures show that in 2010, the Christmas Market event brought in £100,000 but that dropped to £60,000 in 2011. Mr Tubb said the 2012 event was likely to have run at a loss again because the council paid for entertainment, including the skating rink and treasure hunt.
However, he said the council has reduced the cost of Christmas lighting, from more than £20,000 in 2010 to £12,000 last year despite increasing the display.
Keystone director Jenny Stuart said: "We’d hoped this year with more publicity and the ice rink we would have seen something more dramatic with the footfall, but it’s a market town in Gloucestershire. We’re never going to have the footfall of a city like Bath, or Cheltenham."
Gloucestershire-based Rory Baxter, who runs The Potted Game Company, has traded at Cirencester’s Christmas Market since it was launched in 2010.
"It went well for us this year," he said. "We do it for nostalgic reasons because it’s where we started. But most people only do it for a year and then don’t bother again."
Ms Stuart told the Standard that the general response from traders and the public had been positive.
Survey results showed many new visitors had come to Cirencester specifically for the Christmas Market and all said they were more likely to come again.