St Albans businesses ‘must be consulted’ about Christmas events

St Albans businesses may be consulted about the Christmas programme for the city centre. Picture: St

St Albans businesses may be consulted about the Christmas programme for the city centre. Picture: St Albans district council - Credit: Archant

Businesses in St Albans should be consulted about last year’s Christmas events in St Albans city centre, a council committee has said.

District councillors want to hear the views of shops, restaurants, pubs, cafés and other enterprises on the 2019 Christmas activities and what improvements are needed.

The council's community, environment and sport scrutiny committee was given a report on last year's Christmas events and plans for this year. Following the report, the committee asked for new sources of funding to be sought to be help boost trade at shops, and for St Albans Business Improvement District (BID) to survey its members to acquire feedback.

The committee also called for the Christmas Cracker, an enhanced light switch-on event, to return to the city centre this coming year following a successful trial in 2019. The street festival featured live music, market stalls, funfair rides and street performers.

The committee's recommendations will now be put forward to the council's portfolio holder for business, culture and tourism.

Cllr Annie Brewster, who chaired the committee, said: "For several years a continental-style Christmas Market in Vintry Garden was the main focal point for the festive season in St Albans. It was a reason for people to come here.

"That market wasn't held last year and there was concern that it might be missed. We now need to make a major effort to find out how successful 2019 was for our businesses and the local economy with the festive season being so important for their financial health.

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"The committee felt we desperately need detailed feedback from local businesses so we can plan effectively for Christmas 2020.

"I also share the concern, expressed at the meeting, that we did not replace the market with events that had the wow factor and could attract visitors throughout the critical festive period.

"The Christmas Cracker's trial run was a success, but our shops, restaurants and pubs can't rely on one single big event. We need to find out from our businesses what else they need to compete with other town and city centres in addition to our Christmas Charter Market."