Wednesday, 14 October 2015

... and now for the German (Watford) Christmas Market

Watford needs a Christmas Market! ... or so the story goes. "many people have been asking if we could have a German style Christmas Market". I personally quite like the idea of a Christmas Market in Watford and I think many would support it too, however how it has come about and the communication to those affected by it has left a lot to be desired. I don't remember seeing the memo or the questionnaire inviting me to cast my opinion though... so who exactly the 'many people' are I haven't a clue...

Now although the notice in the high street only went up in September 2015 it seems that Town & Country Markets made the application back in the early summer... 15th July to be exact...



Full details here...

This application covers the following parts of the high street... some of the revisions to this drawing were completed in June 2015... none of the traders knew about this until September... objections anyone? Remember we have a market operating in this part of Watford High Street Tuesday through Saturday and Sunday afternoon... and this Xmas Market means this area will be out of action for the build from 9th November... open from the 19th November and then dismantled from around the 3rd / 4th January 2016. None of the existing traders can operate here during this period because an external market is being brought in to benefit from the festive season... all this after the disastrous move from the old charter place and a year of extremely challenging trading conditions. I trust I'm not the only one in feeling that the traders are not really being given a fair crack of the whip here...


Full details here...

The response to the complaints about being dislodged from their regular pitches has been, it's not a problem, you can relocate to the other side of the overpass, the Gade house part of the high street. Apart from the fact that there are traders already operating there this area is not as well frequented and requires people to walk even further to the market... perhaps they wouldn't bother at all having experienced the xmas market already?

But there is a late development... another plan has been submitted this time on September 30th...



As you can see from the drawing below. There is now an additional proposed second half of the Christmas Market that is now starting at the top end of the Parade. Thus providing a complete Christmas market now spanning from the Clarendon Road junction with the high street right up to the top end of the parade... which includes the existing traders who are now residing in the middle of the Christmas Market.


The full drawing can be viewed here...

As you can see... with one submission made in the middle of July (drawings designed in June) followed by a second hurried submission at the end of September with drawings finally completed just this week, that there has been a bit of rethinking.

I would hope that the recent amendments to the Christmas Market have been made because Town & Country Markets and the council have listened to the traders. Recognising how the original plans would have adversely affected the existing traders on whom they rely week in week out to provide a market for our town. The Market Traders that I have spoken too see that being in the middle of the Christmas Market means that they can continue to operate and that there is some hope at least that people will continue to walk up the town to the parade and provide that much needed footfall.

Both of these submissions have been made on the basis that this is a recurring annual event... so it looks like whatever happens this year will be repeated. Let's hope that any lessons learned will be fed back to improve subsequent years for all concerned.