Businesses in Westgate and the Market Place have expressed their anger after it was announced that this year’s annual Grantham Christmas market will be moved to St Peter’s Hill.
The festive event, which is taking place on Sunday, November 26, will include the switching on of the Christmas lights, fireworks and carol singing. It normally takes place in several locations in the town centre, including the Market Place. But all attractions will be brought together on St Peter’s Hill for the first time this year.
Several businesses in Westgate and the Market Place are angry that they were never consulted about the changes until it was too late.
David and Joanna Eggleston, who run Tuffies Discount Store in Westgate, even placed a sign in their store’s window to highlight the move.
Joanna said: “We have been here for 13 years and Westgate and the Market Place has always played a big part in the Christmas market. Neither we the retailers or members of the public were notified that it was going to be moved. We only found out about it by reading the Journal.”
David added: “It is the public that I feel for. They are not being listened to. They deserve a traditional Christmas market, yet there will be nothing in the market area – it doesn’t make sense. There has always been a great festive atmosphere in The George Centre with lots going on, including Santa is his grotto and craft stalls, so why take that away from the public?”
The retailers in the Market Place and Westgate have since been offered a free stall to promote their trade at the market.
Owner of Westgate Gallery Christine Burnett said: “Being offered a free stall is a smack in the mouth. It is appalling but we are not surprised by the total lack of support that we have received. We didn’t receive any consultation to inform us that the market was being moved. We have always opened during the Christmas market, so it remains to be seen how moving it will affect our trade this year.”
Age UK manager Kay Dawkins is saddened by the situation. She said: “The Saturday market really brings the area to life, so it is really sad that the Christmas market won’t be here this year. If something positive is going on nearby, we always try and take part, but we will not be opening this year.”
South Kesteven District Council’s cabinet member for retail and visitor economy Councillor Nick Robins said: “At a major economic summit on Monday, the leader of the council reaffirmed his commitment to protecting and enhancing the markets in our towns.
“We want to make our events and markets even bigger and we believe moving the Christmas market into one place will benefit all retailers by increasing overall footfall.
“We appreciate this may affect some businesses in the short term but we have invited all independent retailers in the Market Place and Westgate to promote their trade with a free stall at the market.
“We will always be open to working with them to see how this event can benefit their business.”