The Leader of Bath and North East Somerset Council must give a full and frank explanation as to why this year’s Bath Christmas Market has been cancelled, Conservatives say.
Cllr Vic Pritchard, Leader of the Conservative Group on B&NES Council, has written an open letter to Cllr Kevin Guy, the Liberal Democrat Leader of the Council, on behalf of residents and businesses in Bath demanding to know why the 2021 Bath Christmas Market has been cancelled.
On Friday 17 September, the administration announced that the Christmas Market was to be “reshaped” due to supply problems caused by Brexit and COVID-19. This reshaping involved, among other things, moving the market online.
But the explanations given by the administration for the cancellation – Brexit and COVID-19 – have been challenged by councillors, residents and businesses who have pointed out their numerous flaws.
Cllr Vic Pritchard, Leader of the Conservative Group on B&NES Council, said: “I am shocked and saddened, though not entirely surprised, that the incompetence of this administration has resulted in the loss of our Christmas Market.
“The decision to cancel the event is a devastating blow to the local economy at a time when this Council should be doing all it can to support local businesses.
“I have written to Cllr Guy to demand a full explanation because the excuses given so far simply do not add up. Time after time we are seeing a catalogue of failure from this administration, and the Leader of the Council ought to recognise that he has a duty to be transparent when making crucial decisions.”
The news came just a few months after Cllr Guy announced that the 2021 event was to be extended for an extra week, meaning it would run for an unprecedented 25 days. The decision to cancel the event so soon after announcing its extension, Cllr Pritchard claims, shows a catastrophic lack of forethought and planning.
In his letter to Cllr Guy, Cllr Pritchard says: “According to Visit England, there are almost 20 locations in the UK that are hosting Christmas markets this year. This even includes small towns such as Skipton and Rochester. Bath is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its Christmas market is famed across Europe. It seems highly unlikely, therefore, that Bath is uniquely susceptible to problems with logistics, while other towns and cities are able to continue as planned with their festive markets.”
The Bath Christmas Market attracts around 400,000 visitors every year and is consistently named one of the best festive markets in Europe.