THE city’s Christmas event has been scaled back after complaints from Oxford college staff that it was “naff and tawdry”, a report has revealed.
The three-day celebration last year saw St Giles closed for a Christmas market and lantern parade which drew in 100,000 visitors and a £1.8m boost to the city economy.
But Oxford City Council last month announced no roads would be closed this year following complaints.
Complaints came from St John’s, Balliol, St Cross and Jesus College.
The Christmas Lights will now be switched on before the three-day event in November and activities are planned for Gloucester Green.
The council report into last year’s event has revealed some of the complaints from Oxford colleges.
The document says feedback from colleges at a meeting “strongly criticised the inconvenience caused by the event, in terms of noise levels and duration and perceived restriction of access to their buildings”.
The author wrote: “Some feedback provided by colleges and individuals who identified themselves as working at colleges was critical of “naff” stalls and “extremely poor quality” stage music.”
The report also said suggestions included holding the event “in a venue away from the city centre” or holding “a short parade on one weekday evening without the tawdry funfair”. One academic told the council: “There is serious academic work going on here which has been profoundly disrupted by your event.”
But some students said they had had no problem.
One wrote: “Despite living directly opposite the main stage and having exams coming up, I was very happy with the event – it did not cause any unnecessary disturbance and it was clearly an excellent event.”
But one insider, who asked not to be named, said: “There will now be no one focal point to the event where people come together.
“Christmas as we have known it in Oxford for many years will now not happen.”
The Green Party in Oxford is now backing a petition calling for the council to reverse its decision to cut the lantern parade which involves schools from the city’s estates.
Green campaigner and Oxford graduate David Thomas said: “Like many other young people, my daughters love the Children’s Lantern Procession and I am determined to convince the council to reverse its decision.”
But the council dismissed a statement from the Green Party claiming it was “currently in discussion to cancel the rest of the three-day event”.
Spokeswoman Louisa Dean said: “We are still in the very early stages of planning this year’s three-day event. Many elements of last year’s successful event will remain like the light theme with school participation as well as engagement with cultural venues.”