Brighton could have a Christmas market after councillors give their backing

Brighton could have a new Christmas market after councillors backed a proposal from a local events company last night (Thursday 11 March).

E3 Events, from Hove, has been given permission to operate a Christmas market in Valley Gardens for the next three years.

The market is part of Brighton and Hove City Council’s outdoor events strategy to fill the winter months when fewer events draw visitors.

A report to members of the council’s Tourism, Equalities, Communities and Culture Committee said that there was the potential to create a Winter Festival brand.

It could include events such as Burning the Clocks, the Veteran Car Run and Bonfire Night fireworks while promoting the wider cultural offer of theatre shows, concerts and exhibitions.

The proposed market could run from Friday 26 November to Friday 31 December, with stalls open from noon to 11pm on weekdays, 9am to 11pm on Saturdays and 11am to 6pm on Sundays.

Green councillor Marianna Ebel said: “It’s a great event because it bridges the quieter winter months. It gives the creative, hospitality and tourism sectors something during the winter months.

“We have lots of seasonal workers who have lots of work in the summer and not so much in the winter. It’s very important for those people who are on lower incomes to have a continuing income.”

She hoped that it would bring more visitors who would also go to the local shops and restaurants and maybe book a hotel too.

The proposed market would have a mix of stalls, food and drink outlets, entertainments and other attractions.

It would be “open access” but with control measures to manage crowd movements and keep the event covid-safe.

Councillor Marianna Ebel

Conservative councillor Mary Mears, a former market trader whose family ran a fruit and veg stall in the Open Market, said that she had doubts about the location.

She said that Valley Gardens was between two major roads, making it hard for traders to set up as well as prompting concerns for people’s safety.

Councillor Mears said: “One of my biggest concerns is for our small local businesses. Traders have been closed for so long they are desperate to reopen.

“We’ve got traders in London Road, Sydney Street, Bond Street, St James’s Street and other surrounding areas.

“We have some amazing small businesses in the city. They desperately need their Christmas retail trade. They need to open and they need to be able to make some money.

“To have a Christmas Market like this, with the best will in the world, they won’t be shopping anywhere else.”

Councillor Mary Mears

The council’s assistant director for culture, tourism and sport Donna Chisholm said that the Valley Gardens revamp was designed with community events in mind.

The surfaces were able to support events like a Christmas Market and there was plumbing and power in place so that generators would not have to be brought to the site.

She said: “Christmas Markets, in essence, are there to attract more people into the city. This is not a question of displacement. It is a question of a Christmas Market for all of Sussex, so people come to the city specifically to visit.

“That generates more income and disperses more money around the city.”

Councillors voted nine to one in favour of the market, with just Councillor Mears against.

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