Tyne & Wear

Traders' anger at Newcastle Christmas market revamp

Albert Sayers
Image caption Albert Sayers has traded in the city for more than 20 years

Street traders in Newcastle say a planned expansion of the Christmas market is "ridiculous", warning some could go out of business.

The council wants to revamp and extend the festive market to a larger area of the city centre and has brought in a new operator from Nottinghamshire.

But existing traders say they have not been consulted about the plans and it "encroaches on their business".

The council said it was committed to working with traders.

Albert Sayers, spokesman for Barrow Traders Association, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: "This has already been decided now for the next five years and there has been no consultation with us.

"All of the traders I have spoken to say that they don't want it.

"It encroaches on their business - it is common sense that if you have 50 food stalls outside the Grainger Market then it is going to cause problems.

"The council doesn't listen, they have lost control of the streets. Someone from Nottingham coming to run a market here is ridiculous."

Image caption Revamped Christmas markets in Nottingham increased footfall by 6%, the council claims

Cristina De Giorgi, of Dat Bar and Nitehawks, added: "If the big chains can't survive in Newcastle, then how are we supposed to?

"We are the ones who are here 24/7, 12 months a year for the residents and visitors to Newcastle.

"As a minimum, if the council want a food and drink-led Christmas market then we should get the first opportunity to take up that space.

"I am all for a vibrant and diverse offering, but to have something so significant in the city centre without any negotiation or consultation with local traders is not good enough."

Image caption Some traders in the historic Grainger Market fear the Christmas market will hurt their businesses

Grainger Market stallholder Leslie Armstrong said costs for traders who want to take part in the Christmas market needed to be affordable.

"The big factor for us is the cost. Last year it was £150 or £170 per day for a stall on the Christmas market," she said.

"It's a massive risk to take at that time of year, especially because the trade is so weather-dependent."

Final dates for this year's market are yet to be finalised, but it is expected to run from 16 November to Christmas Eve.

It is likely to include up to 100 stalls - compared to the usual 60 - with traders dotted along the length of Northumberland Street, Blackett Street, and around Grey's Monument.

A council spokesman said: "We have appointed Mellors, a market leader in the management and delivery of events, to lead on this.

"Their Christmas markets in Nottingham helped the city's footfall increase by 6% last year, compared to a 1% decrease nationally.

"We are fully committed to working closely with local traders and retailers to make sure this new arrangement benefits everyone.

"We understand their concerns, but want to assure them that the market will have a key part to play this Christmas and in the future."

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