'Devastated' Christmas market organiser pulls out after stubborn council refuses to suspend cycle lane

'Devastated' Christmas market organiser pulls out after stubborn council refuses to suspend cycle lane

Rahimi previously said: “They are prioritising cycling and their net-zero ambitions over the 60 businesses which come each year."

Sam Montgomery

By Sam Montgomery

Published: 25/07/2023

- 11:22

Local businesswoman who ran Oxford Christmas Market for 14 years steps back over safety fears

A local businesswoman has chosen not to reprise her role of Oxford Christmas Market organiser, after the county council refused her request to suspend a cycle lane.

The council refused to green light a temporary closure of the Broad Street cycle lane, despite permitting a diversion route last year through Cornmarket Street and Queen Street.

Nicole Rahimi told the Oxford Mail that she was “devastated” and conceded the decision spelled the end of her business, but found solace in the need to put “safety first.”

Rahimi had cautioned that the route could generate a “high speed collision” between cyclists and unsuspecting pedestrians.

Oxford's longest running market could be forced to close this Christmas.


She said: “I’m devastated for all the traders, charities, and local businesses.

“This marks the end of my business, which existed to put on this festive market every year.

“However, in the end I had to put cyclists and pedestrians’ safety first.”

Rahimi described the council’s stance as “unreasonable,” and said she had heard from many cyclists who said they had “no issue dismounting or using a diversion”.

She noted: “It is a small handful of cycle groups and councillors who are cyclists who have made this into a bigger issue than it needed to be.”

Traders sell food, drinks and Christmas decorations.


The market tends to take place in the first week of December and runs for three weeks, with more than 60 businesses taking part.

Though Rahimi has backed out, the council has made clear that the market could still go ahead with a different organiser that accepts the cycle route conditions.

Oxford City Council leader Susan Brown said: "Following Ms Rahimi’s decision not to bid to apply to hold the Christmas market, another interested party has been invited to submit an application to Oxford City Council.

"We are keen to ensure Oxford continues to have a thriving Christmas market, providing a great opportunity for independent businesses and bringing extra footfall into the city centre during the busy shopping season.

"It was always made clear throughout the tender process that this year the cycle lane would remain open alongside the Christmas Market, and Ms Rahimi has chosen to withdraw her bid to hold the market.”


Rahimi said the city council had been “very supportive” of the market going ahead but the county council had “sided with the cyclists”.


She added: "Last year, given the short lead-in time, the county council allowed a suspension of the Broad Street cycle route - an important east-to-west route for cyclists through the city centre - for the Christmas market.

"But at the time they made it clear that this would be the last time this key cycle route would be suspended for the Christmas market.

"Nicole Rahimi has had more than 12 months to prepare for this change, and she submitted a proposal to the City Council that included the cycle route through the market.

"Subsequently, midway through the procurement process, she complained to the local media about the inclusion of the cycle route.”

She concluded: “We will now move forward to explore alternative options for this year's market."

Marc Evans, a spokesman for Oxfordshire County Council, previously told the Oxford Mail: "Although an alternative route was provided last year during the Christmas Market, that option is not available this year.”

He added: "Another interested party has been invited to submit an application to Oxford City Council.”

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