Agenda item

Bath Christmas Market

The Bath Christmas Market transferred from Visit Bath to the Council in January 2021.

With the expected lifting of social distancing measures in June, or at some point shortly after,  the Council now needs to decide whether to proceed with planning and delivery of Bath Christmas Market in 2021, with the uncertainty over the pandemic and variants of concern entering the UK.

The Bath Christmas Market provides the gateway to an annual economic uplift for multiple commercial sectors such as accommodation, retail, hospitality and tourism in the B&NES region. The market gives a platform to local charities and supports community groups through a wide range of projects and local initiatives. 


Councillor Dine Romero introduced the report by reading out the following statement:


‘We need decide tonight whether to proceed with planning, and delivery of the Bath Christmas Market 2021.

As you will recall last year’s Christmas market was cancelled due to the rapid increase in cases without the backstop of a mass vaccination program. Uncertainty still remains due to the increases in case numbers, however this increase must be considered alongside the fact that the majority of adults are now being vaccinated, and there are low-far the cases are less severe cases and people are not ending up in our hospitals. Be assured, I am not underplaying the severity of the pandemic, and will along with the local SAGE be keeping an eye on the situation and changes will be made as required.

However, if we are to have the Christmas Market, we need to decide that now. We are already about 4 months behind where we would be in a normal year, if you can remember what that was like!

I am hopeful that all on cabinet will see that we must decide to proceed. The economic wellbeing of the city, and its traders depends on us making the right decision now.

I know some have asked to move the market to Victoria Park for example, but if we did that then the extra business for our hard pressed local traders will be lost, following such a year this could be death knell for many who are hanging on to survival by their fingertips.

The market is ranked in the top 10 of Europe, and attracts 400k visitors each year, with an estimated spend of £32.5 million in 2019. Half of which is spent elsewhere in the city, on food drink, entertainment, travel and other shopping. The market directly or indirectly supports about 500 actual jobs.

We know that greater proportion of visitors to the market are local, with perhaps 40% coming from further afield. But we are not expecting as many visitors this as that not least as we will not be marketing internationally.

As in previous years we will be asking all to travel sustainably, to use the P&Rs, or public transport wherever possible. This will also be the most sustainable market so far, we are clamping down on the use of single use plastics, relishes etc won’t be offered in plastic sachets, LED lights will be used throughout, reliance on fossil fuels on site will replaced by mains fed electricity points.

The market itself will have an increased footprint, while the number of chalets is being reduced from 205 to 161, with spaces built into the arrangement, and the footprint of the overall market will increase. This will help manage social distancing, and help people stay safe.

The high numbers of visitors can be inconvenient for our residents, but we have a range offers to help. These include a residents-only pre-market event, advertised quieter times for those with autism or who appreciate less bustle, and mobility helpers for those who need extra help and support getting around.

I hope all on cabinet will support this paper, and the proposal, and maybe even pop down to the market when it opens. We need this market, the city traders need this to happen, and to be honest I think we could all do with some festive cheer and normality after the last 18 months.’


Councillor Dine Romero moved the recommendations as per report.


Councillor Richard Samuel seconded the motion by saying that business community has suffered greatly during 2020 and 2021, and that the Council working with Bath BID was strongly committed to taking action to stimulate local retail and hospitality economy. The Bath Christmas market has traditionally provided a major economic boost in the run up to Christmas. This was always welcome but this year it was more important than ever to hold the event if this was possible. In reaching the decision a thought has to be given to the likely events over the next 6 months. However, the risk of cancellation must be acknowledged because of the unpredictability of the spread and mutation of the virus and the actions the government may have to take to reduce transmission. It would be impossible to predict what would happen over the next 5 to 6 months and so the decision to proceed has to be tempered both with caution and realism.



RESOLVED (unanimously) that the Cabinet agreed to:


1. Approve the Bath Christmas Market for 2021, from Thursday 25th November to Sunday 12th December, as set out in Appendix one (SAGE proposal).

2. Approve capital budget of £27,200 funded from revenue for the purpose of financing 2021/22 improvements to chalets.


3. Approve the creation of a smoothing capital replacement reserve to be funded from annual profits.


4. Delegate 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, key gateway decision dates on whether to:


(1)  Scale back the plans

(2)  Cancel the event

A decision-making framework incorporating Covid-19 related indicators, national guidance on Covid-19 restrictions and risk mitigation measures is appended at Appendix six. Decision dates will be aligned with financial milestones. This process aims to reduce both risk to public health and pressure on council budgets.

Supporting documents: