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To be or not to be? BID seeks your views on future of Newbury Christmas market



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That’s the question being put to residents by the Newbury Business Improvement District (BID) on what they would like to see in the town this festive season.
It follows two years of Christmas markets that have faced criticism from both public and businesses involved.
A survey sent to town centre businesses by the BID found that, of the 33 that responded, 18 were in favour of another Christmas market, 10 were against, two suggested a Santa grotto and ice skating rink, and three left the question unanswered.
The BID is also exploring whether a festive funfair in Victoria Park, with fairground rides in addition to Christmas crafts, food and gifts, would be a suitable and desired replacement.
The BID’s managing director, Russell Downing, said: “The majority of people are saying yes, we should still have it.
“It’s a nice thing to do, it’s a draw to the town.
“But if we do a Christmas market this year it has got to be so good that there’s no question that we have got it right.”
Last year, the market came under fire for having too many food outlets and not offering enough support to local businesses.
Many companies packed up and left the event early.
Its location, next to St Nicolas’ Church, was criticised for being too far out of the main shopping areas and not accessible to wheelchair users and parents with pushchairs.
Event management firm Your Event Organisers was behind the market and also another running at the same time in Reading.
The company has since been dissolved, prompting further discussion over the future of Newbury’s popular food festivals, also organised by the firm.
However, Mr Downing said that plans were already underway to secure future festivals this year, with a greater focus on West Berkshire traders, producers and craftsmen.
“The first one, two years ago in June, was just for local producers,” he said.
“It grew out of what it originally set out to be, which was a local food fair. The balance got disrupted.”
While the Christmas market in Victoria Park in 2013 attracted a large footfall, the loading vehicles, chalets and constant stream of visitors caused substantial damage to the grounds that took weeks to rectify.
The BID is appealing to the public to let it know their views.
Would you prefer a Christmas market in the town centre, a festive fair in the park or neither?
To contact the BID, call (01635) 760309 or email info@newburybid.com and share your views by emailing ellis.barker@newburynews.co.uk or tweeting @ellisb_nwn



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