Edinburgh's Christmas market: rescue plan to be discussed at special meeting next week

A bid to rescue the Capital’s Christmas festival will be discussed at a special meeting of the council’s finance committee next week.

The plans for this year’s “Edinburgh’s Christmas” were thrown into chaos when organisers Angels Event Experience Ltd pulled out of the contract.

Talks have been going on with Unique Events – who are already organising Edinburgh’s Hogmanay – and Assembly Festival about a joint operation to take on the Christmas activities, which include the Christmas markets, funfairs and big wheel.

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A cross-party meeting of councillors today agreed that to ensure transparency the matter should be dealt with at a special meeting of the finance committee on Monday October 10.

Among the issues expected to be discussed is whether the new contract for the event will be for one year only or for a longer period. The original contract was for three years with two optional 12-month extensions.

And councillors are expected to emphasise the importance of environmental sustainability, including minimising use of greenspace; making the celebrations family friendly; extending events beyond the city centre; and giving priority to existing and new local businesses – all matters highlighted in a survey of opinion on the festival.

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Under the original contract, awarded in June, Angels Event Experience Ltd was due to pay the council £5,473,500 for the right to run the festive events and attractions for the period of the contract.

Council leader Cammy Day said: “Today, I chaired a positive and constructive cross-party meeting on Edinburgh’s Christmas.

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The rescue bid for Edinburgh's Christmas market will be discussed next week. Picture: Ian Rutherford.

“There was clear consensus amongst councillors on ensuring that we provide high-quality festive celebrations for the city this year – and that these should delivered in the spirit of the feedback received in our consultation with residents, businesses and stakeholders.

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“We agreed to formally consider the plans at a special meeting of the finance and resources committee on Monday .”

Lib Dem group leader Kevin Lang said in due course questions would have to be asked about how the original contract collapsed.

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He said: "The most important thing right now is to deliver an Edinburgh Christmas festival all of us can be proud of, but it’s going to be very important to look carefully at what has clearly gone wrong with the delivery of the contract that was agreed earlier this year to ensure something like this is never allowed to happen again.”

Conservative culture spokesman Max Mitchell said: “After so much effort to improve Edinburgh’s Christmas, it’s deeply disappointing that the work and the festival itself have been put at risk this year. There are clear flaws with the tender process, which need to be fixed urgently, and I’m glad there’s cross-party consensus to resolve yet another embarrassing episode for the council.”

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