Decision details

Bath Christmas Market

Decision Maker: Director Environment

Decision status: Approved

Is Key decision?: No

Is subject to call in?: No


Following Cabinet Report E3280, a decision on whether to scale back the Bath Christmas Market plans, or cancel the event was delegated to the Director of Place Management in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Children & Young People, Communities & Culture, SAGE and the Director of Public Health.

The rationale would be based on a decision-making framework incorporating Covid-19 related indicators, national guidance on Covid-19 restrictions and risk mitigation measures. Decision dates will be aligned with financial milestones. This process aims to reduce both risk to public health and pressure on council budgets.


The Director of Place Management, based on the evidence available and the overall risks outlined in the Risk Matrix (Appendix A) and the lack of suitable control measures being available, has made the decision to re-shape the council’s plans for the Bath Christmas Market 2021.

Following agreement with Visit West, Bath Business Improvement District, SouthGate and Milsom Place, the council will work with these partner organisations to support the B&NES visitor, hospitality and retail economy and promote Bath at Christmas, through a series of activities and events, including:

• An illumination trail of the iconic and historic buildings of Bath
• A number of festive stalls in Kingston Parade and Abbey Green
• A Victorian carousel ride outside the Roman Baths
• Street entertainment and carol singing
• A virtual Christmas Market
• Support for the Independent Artisan Market in Queen Square
subject to appropriate budget being allocated, procurement of suppliers and with the agreement of our partner organisations and Cabinet Member support.

There were no specific issues raised by the Director of Public Health, in relation to public health considerations, in taking this decision.

This will be subject to further Gateway Decision process, as outlined in the Cabinet Report E3280.

Alternative options considered:

Risk considerations
Whilst we had a lot of interest from traders to occupy chalets to enable us to run the Event, challenges with supplier confidence in being able to fulfil contracts to deliver the Bath Christmas Market placed significant health & safety and financial risks on the council

The full Bath Christmas Market is a huge logistical operation attracting 400,000 visitors, including many coach parties, it requires:

• 50 contractor staff to set up, run and manage the event
• 30 professional accredited security guards (10 overnight guards)
• 4 medics
• 27 coach marshals

We went out to tender with a detailed and comprehensive specification of what was needed to run the market. To help companies prepare bids, they were advised that they could sub-contract the part of the contract that they were unable to perform themselves.

There was one response only to this tender, and this was non-compliant as it did not contain mandatory information. We know that 38 other companies had viewed the tender documents but not responded. There had been clarification questions from companies during the process and comments had been made about the nature of the requirements and in particular the availability of suitably trained and qualified security staff in the current marketplace.

We were also advised that the market for security staff was depleted due to staff finding jobs in other sectors, following cancellation of many festivals and events over the last 18 months, forcing people to seek alternative employment, with many not returning to the industry or not being able to work in the UK following its exit from the European Union. The Christmas Market requires specific experienced staff tailored to the event, to ensure the safety of the public is always maintained.

Additionally, the demands for equipment and infrastructure exceeds supply. Event organisers are seeing shortages of vital equipment across the sector. In some cases, only 25% of the requested kit and equipment is available and companies are manufacturing from new to fulfil orders.

The safety of residents, visitors, traders and contractors is at the forefront of the decision to re-shape this year’s Bath at Christmas offer, as well as the rising costs of suppliers which would put extra strain on the Council’s resources to deliver without compromising the quality and above all, safety, of the event.

Public Health considerations based on the decision-making framework incorporating Covid-19 related indicators, national guidance on Covid-19 restrictions and risk mitigation measures as outlined in Appendix six of the Cabinet Report E3280; detailed below:

1. There is no significant and sustained increase in local Covid-19 related hospitalisations and death rate, with consideration to the below, in the run up to the event.

a. Case detection rates in the over 60s.
b. Pressure on the NHS, including current and projected occupancy.
c. Covid-19 death rate; and
d. Identification of new variants (some new variants may cause vaccine inefficiency)

2. Local and national modelling of future pandemic waves and impact on the NHS is considered

3. The minimum national Covid-19 measures can be met, including social distancing, hand hygiene, enhanced cleaning, and the wearing of face coverings

4. Vaccination rates in the likely target audience for the event are considered. Higher rates supporting a lower risk for that target audience

5. Legislation restrictions at the time of the event are considered. Does the legislation allow such mass gatherings to take place irrespective of the other framework principles?

Decisions to determine the continuation, scaling back or cancelling of the Bath Christmas market will be made at key gateway points in the planning process. Principles 1 to 5 will be considered at each point on the dates shown below but may be flexed to reflect any significant changes in the national context.

Gateway 3 – there are no significant changes to the national public health context.

Measure - Funding and Finance

Financial risk monitoring will be carried out before each risk phase increases. The risk phases increase as exposure to revenue loss increases.

A comprehensive Risk Assessment has been carried out on the decision, attached at Appendix A, which was evaluated on:

A. Infrastructure and Equipment
A1. Contractors and Contract fulfilment
A2. Finance (B&NS Council event specific)
A3. Economic impact (Retail, Hospitality, Accommodation and Travel)
B Overall risk assessment

Publication date: 18/11/2021

Date of decision: 02/11/2021