Edinburgh's Christmas: Hyde Park Winter Wonderland organisers who pulled out will still have key role
The company that walked away from the contract to organise Edinburgh's Christmas will still be given a key role in running the festival under plans to rescue the event.
Angels Event Experience Ltd was due to pay the council £5.5 million for the right to stage Edinburgh's Christmas for the next five years, but has now pulled out and the council is in talks with Unique Events and Assembly Festival about taking over the festival.
The company, which runs Winter Wonderland in London’s Hyde Park, is understood to have had a number of local traders already in place for stalls at Edinburgh’s Christmas.
A special meeting of the council’s finance committee has been called for next Monday (October 10) to discuss the award of a new contact for the festival.
One council source said: “Angel will still be kept on as a subcontractor as part of what's going to be proposed.
"It’s supposedly to do with being able to retain some of the local suppliers who are involved and Edinburgh traders having first call on being able to get a stand.
“They have already done some of the ground work and got traders involved. Part of the argument is about securing local businesses and local jobs.”
But the source said some felt “uncomfortable” as “the people who have essentially reneged on the contract are still going to potentially be involved”.
And a source close to the traders who had been working with Mr Kohlert before he gave up the contract claimed if he remained involved with the markets, as planned, he would end up with “a substantial profit – more than he would have running the whole contract”.
The source added: "It’s pretty bizarre if you pull out of a contract and then you’re rewarded by getting a higher level of income and not having to fulfil your commitments.”
Mr Kohlert, in his first public statement since pulling out of the contract, apologised for the disruption caused and defended his company’s continuing involvement.
He said: “With more than 25 years of experience in running Christmas events across Europe, and almost a decade here in Edinburgh, we felt we were well qualified to take on Edinburgh’s Christmas and were delighted to be awarded the contract.
“Unfortunately, having teamed up with a local partner, our preparations were not going according to plan and it became increasingly apparent to us that we were not going to be able to implement our events as originally proposed. As a result, we took the difficult decision to pull out of the contract with the council.
“We took this decision to protect Edinburgh’s Christmas and to allow a new supplier to come on board in enough time to deliver the celebrations for the city.
“By remaining involved in a smaller capacity, it will allow the much-loved Christmas markets to go ahead and for over 70 local businesses to trade over their most important time of year.
“We’re truly sorry for the disruption this has caused and will do everything in our power to make sure this year’s events are a success for the people and businesses of Edinburgh.”