Traders’ anger after council cancels Stamford Christmas Festival

Stamford Town Hall
Stamford Town Hall

Traders who were due to take part in Stamford Christmas Festival have called for an apology after it was cancelled at short notice.

Stamford Town Council decided to call off Sunday’s event at about 3pm on Saturday (November 28).

A press statement was quickly released on social media. But the first contact traders had from the council was an e-mail at about 7pm, by which point many were packed up and ready to set off the following day.

The council said it had taken the decision to cancel the festival “with great regret”, but was “compelled” to do so because of forecasts of bad weather. But many traders have since contacted the Mercury, angry at what they say is a lack of communication or apology from the council. Some are concerned that they may not get a refund on the money they paid to be at the event.

Steph Collings runs luxury dog accessory firm Walter’s Wardrobe. She said: “The fact that it was cancelled was bitterly disappointing but the issue I have is how it has been dealt with. To receive an auto email at 7pm the night before you are due to set off without even a hint of an apology is appalling.

“To then find out that we may not get our fees back is just ridiculous as we haven’t gained anything from our hard earned cash.

“I feel cheated by them and shall never choose to trade there again.”

Liz Goodwin, who runs Salvaged Yarns based in Derbyshire, said: “Communication was very poor and with no one available on the Saturday evening to answer concerns or calls. Many people turned up on the day regardless or had already booked hotel rooms and were on route.

“We trust that the refund of our outlay is the least that the council can offer in compensation. We are now left with three quarters of unsold stock and are not willing to outlay any further funds to secure space elsewhere, and most of the big local outdoor markets have now already taken place.”

And roast chestnut seller John Donovan said: “The traders were not informed of this cancellation until we received an email at 7.11pm on Saturday, by which time we had prepared eighteen 5kg bags of chestnuts for sale the following day.

“Apparently Stamford council had asked Radio Rutland to put out an announcement at 3pm, however, living in Peterborough we were unaware of this. Had we known at 3pm we could have avoided wasting all those chestnuts at a cost of £250.”

The council has made no official comment on refunds for traders, but a tweet from the @StamfordTC account on Tuesday (December 1) said no decision had yet been made.

A statement from the council said: “Stall holders and others directly participating were notified as soon as was practical and possible. The town council will meet shortly to consider future action in respect of trader’s fees.

“Stamford Town Council recognises that there has been great disappointment, not least among the organising committee who worked so hard to stage the event.”

The town’s Christmas lights were due to be switched on during the festival, but that was also cancelled. However, the switch-on was rescheduled for yesterday afternoon (December 3), with Wansford youngster Seb Goold asked to press the switch.

Three years ago a market trader was hurt during the Christmas Festival after a stall was knocked over in the wind. She was knocked backwards and fell onto a wall, hurting her back and side.

Following the incident, the festival, which was in its sixth year, finished early.