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NOT RETURNING: Newcastle Christmas market contract torn up

NOT RETURNING: Newcastle Christmas market contract torn up

Plans to build a two-storey Christmas Markets bar around Grey's Monument, Image: Newcastle City Council

The massive Christmas market that took over Newcastle city centre in 2019 will not be returning, after a multi-year contract for the festive celebrations was torn up.

Nottingham-based Mellors Group produced the city’s biggest ever Christmas markets two years ago after being chosen by Newcastle City Council to run the event, with the stalls and fairground rides extended from their traditional spot around Grey’s Monument to run the length of Blackett Street and Northumberland Street.

But the company’s five-year deal with the council has now been cancelled due to the “ongoing uncertainty” caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, which had already led to last year’s winter festivities being axed.

Leeds confirmed last week that its 2021 Christmas market had been called off, but in Newcastle there are still plans to hold a  smaller event this year that will be built around local traders rather than bringing in outside attractions and businesses.

2019’s market proved very unpopular with many independent city traders, particularly in the Grainger Market, who complained that the competition took away income from them at a vital time of the year, though the council said it was “absolutely delighted” with the event.

Sources say that the council could be open to contracting a specialist firm to organise markets again in the years to come – but that all future events would have to be focused on local traders and “unique” to Newcastle.

A council spokesperson confirmed: “Newcastle City Council and James Mellor Limited mutually agreed to terminate the contract to run the city’s Christmas markets due to the ongoing uncertainty around Covid.

“The council and James Mellors Limited enjoyed a very positive working relationship, but it was accepted by both parties that the pandemic had changed the environment that we must operate in.

“Since then the council has been working with NE1 to plan a unique Christmas experience for the city, focusing on a locally delivered, good quality and family orientated offer.

“The Grainger Market and Quayside Market will again have central roles to play in this and we are currently considering different options to safely provide other festive events and animate the city. More details will be revealed when these have been confirmed.”

Mellors’ plans to make Newcastle’s Christmas markets even bigger had included erecting a massive two-storey bar surrounding Grey’s Monument.

The 2019 event also drew criticism from bus companies and some passengers, who complained that the closure of Blackett Street to accommodate the attractions cut off access to the city centre.

 

Words: Daniel Holland, Local Democracy Reporter


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