The organiser of the Oxford Christmas Market for the last 14 years has announced that the market, as we know it, has been cancelled indefinitely.
Nicole Rahimi announced publicly that the market, as we all know it, will not go ahead this year due to Oxford City Council insisting on maintaining the cycle lane on Broad Street during the period of the market.
In a message on Facebook, Ms Rahimi wrote:
It is with a heavy heart that I have to announce that the Oxford Christmas Market had to be cancelled indefinitely.
The decision was not one I wanted to make, but circumstances left me with no choice.
The cancellation was triggered by changes made to Broad Street by Oxfordshire County Council, with the backing of Oxford City Council. They have insisted on maintaining the cycle lane, which had previously been permitted to be closed without any incidents since 2013.
The new layout and the associated conditions make it impossible for me to continue. Ensuring the safety of all is my top priority, and proceeding under such circumstances would be irresponsible, as it could potentially lead to accidents.
It has been an absolute joy and honour to create the Oxford Christmas Market and to establish a Christmas tradition in Oxford that has been cherished by many.
Thank you for your support.
Thank you for visiting.
Thank you to all my wonderful traders.
Thank you to all the local bands and choirs for spreading Christmas cheer.
With best wishes,
Oxford City Council, who have publicly stated that they are keen for the market to continue, assisted Ms Rahimi in the search for an alternative venue for the market.
The council and Ms Rahimi explored potential venues such as Radcliffe Square, Gloucester Green, Cornmarket, and St Giles. Regrettably, none of these options was feasible, and Broad Street remained the only viable choice.
Subsequently, the council has put out a tender for the market in Broad Street with the requirement to maintain the cycle route during the period.
Oxford City Council has insisted that it remains committed to ensuring a fabulous and safe Christmas Market is held in Oxford and emphasised that Ms Rahimi knew the conditions of the tender beforehand.
Ms Rahimi has also confirmed that she received a tender inviting organisers to apply for a Christmas Market in the newly developed event spaces in Broad Street, with the stipulation that the cycle lane remains accessible at all times.
In response to further communications about the market, the council said, “The condition regarding keeping the cycle lane was in place when Oxford City Council’s market testing exercise was put out to tender, so all bidders were aware of the need to keep it.
“Although an alternative cycle route was provided last year during the Christmas Market (for one year only), that option is not available this year.”
The Christmas market usually takes place in the first couple of weeks in December, with more than 60 traders offering food and drinks, decorations, and unusual and handmade gifts in wooden stalls.
Many cyclists have expressed dismay at the council’s lack of compromise on keeping the cycle route, suggesting they’d be prepared to use alternative routes or dismount and walk the short distance through the market rather than see the market cancelled.
It will be interesting to see how, maintaining the cycling route through the period, any potential organiser will be able to ensure the safety of cyclists and pedestrians.
Broad Street is a heavily trafficked mixed-use thoroughfare on most days, and adding in the extra visitors expected during the period of the market might only serve to exacerbate the safety situation without any significant changes to the layout of the area or some form of marshalling.