OXFORD’S Christmas market has been cancelled after city centre businesses said it would harm their trade.

Organisers hoped to relocate the festive attraction from Oxford Castle , where it has been held for the last three years, to Broad Street because of dwindling profits and a low footfall.

But permission to move was refused by Oxford City Council after it found businesses did not support the idea.

Organiser Nicole Rahimi, from Iffley, said the decision was unexpected.

She said: “We just couldn’t believe it. We are all a bit gobsmacked about the decision.

“We were really quite positive that we would get it.”

Mrs Rahimi, who said she had 200 traders interested in having a stall at the market if it changed location, plans to make another application to hold the market in Broad Street in 2013.

She said: “I don’t want to give up. I would like to make another application, I don’t want this to end. I have put too much into it and I still feel Oxford is the right city.

“Traders know Oxford is a great city. They were very keen to come back to a prominent location.”

Previous markets, featuring German-style wooden stalls, attracted thousands of visitors.

The first market in 2009 had 30 stallholders and last year this grew to 48.

Mrs Rahimi added: “It is a shame for Oxford.”

The city council refused the application on Friday last week and rejected an appeal from organisers on Thursday saying there were “no strong grounds” to support a move and claiming there was a lack of support from Broad Street businesses and traders.

Simon Kosky, owner of Flaggs in Broad Street, said: “Over the years when there have been events in Broad Street, it disturbs our trade in a non-beneficial way.

“The Christmas market wouldn’t benefit us.”

But Frank Smith, store operations manager for Boswells in Broad Street, said: “I am disappointed.

“I would have been supportive of the market because it would have brought more footfall to this end of Cornmarket Street.”

Graham Jones, from traders’ group ROX, said: “Markets have been held there in the past and the shops there felt that people were going to the market but ignoring the shops.

“It is very sad but if people can get together and work out some of the problems, hopefully Nicole will come back with a renewed attempt early next year.”

He added: “If it is going to increase the footfall and not compete with the shops, then it is win-win.”

In a statement the city council said: “We regret that the market is unable to take place this year.

“However, there were no strong grounds to support a move away from the Oxford Castle site.

“As with any event application, we have to consult with various stakeholders.

“This consultation took place with the Broad Street stakeholders and there was no overwhelming support from them for the market to move to Broad Street.”