'Why was it open?' Dismay that packed Nottingham Xmas market was approved

Police cars next to the Christmas market in Nottingham which has been shut temporarily after large crowds gathered at the attraction on Saturday.
Police cars next to the Christmas market in Nottingham, which has been shut after large crowds gathered at the attraction on Saturday. (PA)

Nottingham residents have questioned why the city's annual Christmas market was allowed to go ahead after it was cancelled after just one day because of overcrowding.

The Winter Wonderland market in Nottingham, which is currently under Tier 3 COVID restrictions, opened on Saturday but was closed eight hours later and will now not reopen.

Pictures of huge crowds descending on Old Market Square on the first day were widely shared on social media, prompting concern from people who feared a surge of coronavirus cases.

The market was initially called off for just one day while an assessment was made, but the decision has now been taken not to reopen it this year.

Watch: Nottingham Christmas market closes due to crowd concern

Nottingham City Council and market organiser Mellors Group said in a statement last night: “Following ongoing meetings, including observing strong city centre footfall again, we have made a joint decision not to reopen Nottingham Christmas Market this year.”

They said measures had been put in place to ensure the market followed Tier 3 guidance, but that footfall numbers had proved “too large to implement these effectively”.

Residents are now questioning why the council allowed the market to go ahead in the first place.

Susie Savidge wrote on Nottingham Live’s Facebook page: “Should never have opened. You can't see family and friends in their gardens but thousands of people were allowed to not social distance there.”

The Christmas market in Nottingham which has been shut temporarily after large crowds gathered at the attraction on Saturday.
The Christmas market has now shut for the rest of the year. (PA)

Jackie Ashurst said: “Well done for closing but should never have opened in the first place – now you have to think about all the traders that have brought stock to sell and have no chance of selling it.”

Steven Cave added: “So again a few people spoil it for everyone else. The independent stalls will not be making any money because some people wanted to party.”

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Linda Abson said: "Will never understand why this was given the OK to go ahead when we are under the risk of Covid, never mind what tier people are in.”

Jo Cox-Brown, director of Night Time Economy Solutions, tweeted images of huge crowds at the event on Saturday, writing: “So as a council you can put on a Christmas Market with horrific and down right irresponsible scenes like this but we cannot open hospitality, theatres, nightclubs or put on festivals, where is the logic in this?”

The joint statement from Mellors and the city council went on to say: "We know this will be very disappointing for many local people who were looking forward to visiting and for the stallholders, many of them local, for whom this was a vital opportunity to trade in what has been an incredibly difficult year.

“We wanted the market to help support the local economy and bring some festive cheer by bringing people into the city centre in a safe, managed way as part of the reopening of non-essential retail after the national lockdown.

“Public safety and the safety of the stallholders has always been first and foremost in all the decisions we have taken.

“The views being expressed both for and against are very important to us and we have listened carefully. The decision to go ahead with the market was not taken lightly nor has the decision to close.

“We’re sorry it has not worked out.”

The UK recorded 17,272 coronavirus cases on Sunday, a 42% rise compared with last Sunday's total of 12,155.

It comes on the first weekend since England's second national lockdown was lifted ahead of Christmas.

Sunday’s figures showed that 231 more people died from coronavirus in the UK, bringing the total number of people to have died within 28 days of a positive test to 61,245.

Watch: The COVID dos and don’ts of Christmas this year