Is Christmas fair too big for town?

CONCERNS were last night voiced that a popular Christmas fair could be getting too large for its host town after traffic ground to a standstill.

Last week’s Christmas fair attracted tens of thousands of people into Bury St Edmunds and many retailers have reported record takings.

However, the three-day event – which was last year judged the nation’s top Christmas fair – also caused sporadic gridlock for motorists in the town centre and delays to journey times of up to an hour.

Some have now questioned whether the festive celebrations, which were first held seven years ago with the inception of Bury St Edmunds Town Council, are getting too big.

Kevin Smith, 31, who works in the town, said: “It was a great event but I think making it any bigger would be a bad move. For commuters it was awful.”

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Rachel Carrington, 21, who also works in the town, said: “It took me an hour to make a 10-minute journey. I was not happy as I ended up having to cancel an appointment.

“I think the event is about the right size, though it would be nice to see more variety – every other stall seemed to be selling food rather than being Christmassy.”

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Town council chairman Bob Cockle said: “It is becoming bigger every year. It is very, very good business.

“I have heard the complaints about the gridlock but I’ve also heard from certain retailers that they’ve just had the best three days of business. I think the fair is an incredible feat.

“If it does get too big then I can assure people it is under constant review. We have to look after the residents but the fair is good for the town and the economy.”

A spokeswoman for St Edmundsbury Borough Council, which runs the fair, said any issues relating to size would be investigated as part of a debriefing exercise.

She said: “It is early days in collating information from the weekend and we will be holding a debrief to look at any issues.

“For now, we can say that visitors, traders and organisers are all telling us that it was a tremendous success and very good for the local economy. If any issues to do with numbers of visitors are highlighted, we will work with the police.”

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