THE CHRISTMAS offering across Salisbury has been labelled as "disappointing" by residents and city councillors alike. 

There was no big lights switch-on event like in previous years, no late-night shopping on a Thursday, the chalet-style Christmas market is much smaller, and old favourites like an ice rink and a big Christmas tree are nowhere to be seen. 

Salisbury Journal:

There are a handful of Christmas stalls, as well as the Frost Bar on the Guildhall Square, Santa’s Grotto in the Maltings and events spread across the weekends leading up to December 25.

Councillor Caroline Corbin said she is "disappointed" as a resident and as a councillor, but admitted that the council is having to cut costs. 

She said: "If it’s not been possible to provide the big events as the years have gone by, then that’s what it is.

"I think it’s just trying to get it right and I don’t think, with the best thought in the world, that it’s quite right this year, but not dissing what is there. I think it’s good, but I think there needs to be more of a joined up, coordinated effort with the shops to get people to come in." 

Salisbury Journal: Annie Riddle

Cllr Annie Riddle, who is part of the council's leadership team, said: "If people want more and they want the council to fund more, they will have to pay more council tax.

 “Unless they want another big tax rise, we are doing our best to maintain the level of everyday services which people rely on and people expect from us, and we’re doing our very best to provide Christmas festivities at a reasonable cost."

Cllr Riddle added that "it's no use" wishing for a return of the chalet-style Christmas market, as some of the chalets are no longer fit for purpose and there is "certainly no money for new ones". 

Cllr Riddle also dismissed any comparisons between Salisbury and Bath or Winchester.

"They are very, very different, in terms of the wealth of their population and the wealth of the people that they attract as visitors to spend money", she said. 

The chairman of the Events, Markets and Grants sub committee, councillor Sam Charleston, has defended the city's offering. 

He told the Journal: “The events we’re doing are spread out more across the city. In terms of actual events, we’ve got the events going on at the Frost Bar, the Sunday Markets, I think the Father Christmas Grotto is doing particularly well.

"I appreciate that all these things are a matter of taste, but I’m very happy with the amount of things that are going on this year."

He also explained that the bi-weekly charter market makes it very difficult to hold a Christmas Market "that scales the point where its worth doing". 

He added: "I think it’s a good amount of things that we’re doing. There is something for everyone.

“I think we will see more next year because that is the process we’re undertaking.”

Salisbury Journal: Santa's Grotto in the Maltings. Picture by Spencer MulhollandSanta's Grotto in the Maltings. Picture by Spencer Mulholland (Image: Spencer Mulholland)

Conservative cllr Sven Hocking said a lack of funds is to blame: "They’ve [the city council] got no money, so they can’t throw anything at anything because they’ve splurged it all on green stuff and all the other rubbish that they’ve done, so it’s a question of priorities."

Cllr Hocking did also defend the council, saying the city council "is going through a period of change and everybody’s under a lot of pressure at the moment". 

The Journal took to the streets of Salisbury to find out your views. 

Peter Lord, 86, said he would have liked to have seen a big Christmas tree, and his wife Carol, 75, added: “I was a little disillusioned, I must admit.

“When we came into George Mall it was a shame but maybe if a bit more thought went into it, it could’ve looked a bit more Christmassy.”

Salisbury Journal:

Catherine Hall, 68 from was underwhelmed with the light display in particular: “I think the George Mall is the nicest place we’ve got now, I think it really looks Christmassy, but I think even just those little light bulbs they’ve got going across are just awful and I hate those sculpture things with the lights on, just how much must they’ve cost?”

One family came especially for the Christmas display but were far from impressed with what they saw.

Salisbury Journal: Charlotte Copeman (45) and family Charlotte Copeman (45) and family (Image: Newsquest)

Charlotte Copeman, 45, wife and mum to one said: “We went to Winchester and had an awesome day out, we also came here to do it today and there’s absolutely nothing-we’re really surprised, we spoke to some of the store owners and they said they were really disappointed.”

Salisbury BID has been contacted for comment.