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Big wheel 'bullied out' of Lincoln Christmas Market by hike in fees

By Lincolnshire Echo  |  Posted: June 21, 2012

  • The Lincoln Christmas Market will be without its big wheel this year

  • The Lincoln Christmas Market will be without its big wheel this year

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The big wheel fairground ride will be absent from Lincoln Christmas Market after plans to raise pitch charges were given the go-ahead.

The City of Lincoln Council's executive committee has agreed changes bumping up the bill for the fairground in Westgate by 93 per cent.

In 2011 the pitch cost £6,900. This year it will cost £13,350 and operator John Armitage feels "bullied" out.

"We have always turned out and it is a landmark for the city. I just feel I'm being bullied by the council with a 93 per cent increase," said Mr Armitage, who has been involved in the market since 1982.

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"If this rise stays then I'll not come. We don't just turn up with a van. I've got the expense of lorries, cranes and three days getting it up and down.

"When the market was cancelled through snow it cost me £10,000 to put it up and take it down and I did not seek compensation from the council.

"I'll have no problem at all getting business if I don't come. I do feel very let down."

The market made a £113,000 loss last year and the stall price changes are part of a plan to make the event break-even.

The rates for a pitch in Westgate were set a long time ago and the council says they "have no basis or rationale".

If the fairground was not present it could host 15 stalls in Westgate, generating £13,500.

Kate Ellis, lead officer examining the proposed market changes, said they are not trying to discourage fair rides.

"That part of the Christmas Market is really important to us," she said. "The big wheel has become an icon. However, we need some consistency in the way we charge for it. We are not trying to say we don't want it.

"It is a significant rise and I'm not going to deny that. It is a substantial increase.

"The exercise we have gone through is to bring the charges in line with the rest.

"We have only pushed the prices of some stalls up by one per cent as we recognise the economic difficulties.

"We understand the concerns held by Mr Armitage and we are willing to talk to him."

The big wheel rises high above the castle walls and provides visitors with a view of the market and far beyond.

Jacqueline Penning, from Lincoln, who has been going to the Christmas Market for years, said: "I don't see the appeal of the big wheel. If anything it detracts from the arts and crafts stalls.

"The queues are horrendous and having less fairground rides might help. The rides go against the traditional Christmas Market feel."

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  • RIFRIF  |  June 29 2012, 8:59AM

    Kate Ellis: ""That part of the Christmas Market is really important to us," she said. "The big wheel has become an icon. However, we need some consistency in the way we charge for it. We are not trying to say we don't want it." I thought the word "consistency" sort of meant "constant to same principles"..... Ha! Ha! How much does she get paid to do this job?

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  • Gnome_Chomsky  |  June 22 2012, 7:57PM

    rascall1 - Thank you for your prompt and informative reply. Unfortunately, being a bit thick, I don't really understand it so I'll go back to your original comment and try to explain my point more clearly. You seemed to indicate that you would like to know what happened to the funds generated by the market in previous years, then suggested you are aware of the Freedom of Information Act. Well, if you ask the questions for which you want answers in the form of a FoI request, you would have your response in 20 working days. I suppose, if you prefer, you could always just sit around for 100 years hoping the information falls in your lap through pure serendipity ...

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  • camelherder  |  June 22 2012, 6:48PM

    I understand getting rid of the tacky Hook a Duck type stalls and things like the Dodgems but getting rid of the wheel is a mistake. No it isn't the London Eye but it is the closest thing Lincoln ever has to it allowing visitors to the market to see over the city and the views beyond. Lets have a policy of not allowing more than two stalls selling the same wares to get rid of the repetitiveness of previous markets. Put stalls the other side of the Exchequergate Arch to link the Christmas Market and the little market held in the Bishops Palace. The more people see of what Lincoln has to offer while the market is on the more people will return to Lincoln spending money in Lincoln and helping the local economy. Why on earth don't they use Wickham Gardens for the smaller stalls there is plenty of room in there. While we are on the subject of the market what is happening with the sale of the Lawn? This will surely affect markets in the future.

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  • ThornyRay  |  June 22 2012, 10:18AM

    Actually Adrian, I don't vote for Parties, I vote for the person whom I think will represent me the best. Unfortunately in Lincoln, the Labour Party is Rik Metcalfe, while there may be a few others that are true Labour Members who do excellent work on the ground for ordinary everyday people. The majority of his Party do as they are told, turn up, don't ask questions and move on. I don't believe there should be any Party Politics on a Local level, it should be about local people working for local people, not national agendas. Why do you think we only every see Rik being photographed for Council related business? He has executive members, but he takes all the spot light, because that's the kind of man he is, he is not interested in people, either us the tax payer, or the people he represents in his Party, he is only interested in his own self importance. Personally I also think it obscene that he run the Lincoln Council, yet does not live in the City.

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  • TB78WHlNE  |  June 21 2012, 11:55PM

    "The market made a £113,000 loss last year" Right after control of the council returned to Labour. Coincidence? I think not. Let's all sit back and watch Metcalfe's muppets run yet another event into the ground.

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  • Adrian1208  |  June 21 2012, 10:58PM

    ThornyRay I take it you vote Tory. What do you mean a RETURN of novelty tat, it's always been novelty tat. As the saying goes, same S**T diffrent year, but this year it's not is it, because we havn't got the Big Ferrous Wheel............

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  • ThornyRay  |  June 21 2012, 10:31PM

    With the Council being back in the hands of Labour, I'm sure we will see the return of more novelty tat and burger vans again. Once again I will be avoiding this like the plague.

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  • tikkamassala  |  June 21 2012, 3:30PM

    Great more stalls with hand crafted tat on them at ridiculous prices !

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  • mrpdoff  |  June 21 2012, 12:02PM

    Rascall1 have got to disagree on the bullying point,these bullies were probably bullied at school so now it is pay back time.

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  • rascall1  |  June 21 2012, 10:33AM

    Hey i wish i had a decent sized piece of land near there, i would rent it out for much less than that, but then i would be bullied by the boffins in power, to find planning permission to be refused, so yes he was bullied out, because my thought and think, is the people at the top were all bullies at school, any way, and get off on bullying others knowing they can call it fair. Where has these funds gone to that have been generated all these years i would dearly love to know, as would many others, or do we have to wait for it to be available under the freedom of info act in 100 years time!!

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