Organisers of last year’s festive market E3 Events pulled out of a contract one year early, citing difficulties including supply chain problems, the effects of the pandemic and rising costs.
Over the summer, Brighton and Hove Council’s Labour administration launched a consultation with residents, community groups and artists to share their ideas for a “new Christmas celebration for the city” this December.
The council said in July that “initial plans” were coming together, but sites had not been finalised for the festivities.
Alan Robins, lead councillor for culture on Brighton and Hove City Council, said at the time that the council’s vision was to “create an exciting and community-focused event, centred around our fantastic local artisans and performers”.
“We’re thinking brass bands, choirs, gifts, crafts and fun for all the family,” Cllr Robins said.
The council had said a delivery partner would be appointed by the end of August, with the Labour administration planning to announce a “full programme” of festive events before the end of last month.
However, with just weeks to go until Christmas, the council has confirmed that no replacement for the festive market has been organised.
Speaking to The Argus, Cllr Robins said that the Labour administration had run out of time to be able to set up a new Christmas celebration from scratch after E3 Events withdrew from their contract. He also explained that attempting to organise a smaller and more “intimate” event proved “difficult to achieve”.
Cllr Robins said: “It’s unfortunate – and I apologise to everybody because it was something we were really keen on doing, and I was really keen on doing.
“I’m sad, and I wish we had been able to do it. Believe me, it wasn’t for want of trying.
“With the election in May and settling in in June and July, we just ran out of time basically.
“I think in some ways it is because we had this ambition of making it a much smaller, intimate and family-friendly market.
“If we had looked at having a big market, we might have got more interest because people could have made more money out of that.
“This vision of a much more intimate event with brass bands and choirs was always what we wanted, more than this great big market, where you could buy a hot dog for £5. That would have outpriced all the families we wanted to attract.”
Conservative Party leader on Brighton and Hove City Council Alistair McNair slammed the lack of preparation and said residents and visitors would be left “disappointed” as a result.
He said: “Frankly, it is shocking that a tourist town of Brighton and Hove’s renown and importance will not have a Christmas market.
“It has been a tough year and residents will be bitterly disappointed.
“Christmas markets are a real delight, especially for children and families. Last year’s market in Valley Gardens was a disappointment, not a patch on any Christmas market towns and cities up and down the country put on year after year.
“I thought Labour’s focus was on rebuilding Brighton’s brand after the Greens left the city’s reputation in tatters – known more for its graffiti and sky-high parking charges than its abundance of shopping and cultural amenities.
“You have to ask yourself how seriously Labour is actually taking the importance of the necessary brand rebuild.
“First, they wanted to charge Remembrance Sunday volunteers for their parking, now they can’t organise a Christmas market.
“Now is the time to start organising next Christmas, so hopefully this won’t happen again.”
Although no Christmas market has been organised, plans to put up a Christmas tree in every council ward was unveiled last week.
The Labour administration hopes the 23 trees, which have been donated by a local business, will help communities come together to celebrate the festive season. The trees will be put up in locations across the city, such as community centres, with the hope that children will be able to create decorations to adorn them.
Cllr Robins said: “We’re working on a wonderful scheme to have a community Christmas tree put up in each of the 23 council wards across the city in time for Christmas.
“This is a great way to foster community spirit and I really hope local schools will get involved in creating decorations for their local trees.”
He also told The Argus that the council plans to start their preparations for next year’s Christmas celebrations early to ensure they go to plan.
“We are going to do all we can to make sure we do something next year,” Cllr Robins said.
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This notice was published: 2023-11-16 05:00:00