As Lincoln approaches a festive season without its iconic Christmas Market, calls intensify for its reinstatement in 2024, setting the stage for a contentious debate at the upcoming council meeting.
This year's festive lineup, featuring the Lincoln Live music event, an inflatable monster tour, and an ice sculpture trail, is a stark departure from the beloved Christmas Market.
Critics, including the City of Lincoln Conservatives, argue that these new events lack the charm and economic draw of the traditional market, which attracted over 350,000 across four days.
The controversy has even drawn attention from higher echelons, with local MP Karl McCartney condemning the market's closure as a grave mistake.
The City of Lincoln Conservatives proposed a motion for the next full council meeting on Tuesday, urging the reversal of this decision for 2024.
They argue that significant public support persists for the revival of the 40-year-old traditional annual event.
"As we approach what would have been another Christmas Market, there continues to be significant public outcry for the return of our Christmas Market," said Councillor Tom Dyer's motion.
"The city council’s alternative events program does not and will never replace the Christmas Market."
This year, the authority allocated the £260,000 festive budget to events including the Lincoln Live music event, an inflatable monster tour, and an ice sculpture trail through the city. Additionally, £140,000 has been invested in new Christmas lights.
Other organisations in the city are compensating for the gap, including the Medieval Market at St Mary le Wigford Church, Lincolnshire County Council's annual Lincoln Castle illuminated event, and an alternative Christmas Market at the Lincolnshire Showground, organised by Lincolnshire Co-op.
The local councillors have received support from Lincoln MP Karl McCartney, who has declared the market's closure as "wrong at every level".
He said: "The market was part of our city's rich heritage as much as the cathedral, castle and the Romans. The decision has astonished people across the country, let alone locally. It put our city on the map and supported businesses and jobs.
"It made our city special. It brought in tourists, not just at the time, but all year round, because they would come back in the summer to our museums, galleries and shops because the market reminds them what a great city we are.
"The other attractions that have been brought in will not hit the heights of the Christmas Market."
During a recent Performance Scrutiny Committee meeting, opposition councillors requested comparative footfall figures between the traditional Christmas Market and the new events, to be provided after this year's festive season concludes.
Carolyn Wheater, City Solicitor at City of Lincoln Council, said: “The motion has been formally submitted through the democratic procedures, and will be debated at a meeting of the full council on November 28.”