Retailers divided by Montrose Christmas Spectacular

The Montrose Christmas Spectacular, which will be held the weekend before Christmas in the town is dividing local retailers
The Montrose Christmas Spectacular, which will be held the weekend before Christmas in the town is dividing local retailers

Some business owners in Montrose are unhappy about the town centre being closed the weekend before Christmas for the two-day festive spectacular.

The High Street and Murray Street will be shut on Saturday, December 20, and Sunday, December 21, as a funfair, stalls and vendors come to the burgh.

This marks the return of a town centre Christmas event after three years.

The objectors say they are comfortable with the streets being closed off on the Sunday as it has been traditionally for the event.

However, they say the Saturday is one of the busiest trading days of the year and fear the street closures could mean loss of business.

The shop owners are claiming they have not been consulted on the closure of the streets.

Robert Ritchie, owner of Robert Ritchie Hi-Fi shop on Murray Street, said: “We didn’t know anything about it until we saw the posters being put up.

“How can a decision have been made that affects shop owners in the town without asking the shop owners what they think?

“We have no issue with the event on the Sunday but not both days.

“The Saturday before Christmas is one of the busiest Saturdays of the year and closing the High Street and Murray Street on that day is bad for business.”

Vehicle access to both streets will be prohibited during the two-day event.

Mr Ritchie continued: “People want to use their cars or get off the bus to go shopping and they can’t do that because they can’t park on Murray Street or the High Street.

“We have a lot of deliveries and we only have access to the store from the front.

“There’s plenty of other places in Montrose like the East Links where a funfair could be held.”

Tom Docherty, owner of Stevensons domestic appliances store on Murray Street, said: “For the last few years we’ve been hearing about how we need to protect our high streets. Who in their right mind thought it would be a good idea to close the High Street the weekend before Christmas? It’s detrimental to businesses.

“People and families who will be coming to the spectacular won’t be wanting to be shopping, they’ll be taking their kids on the rides.

“Where are the fairground proprietors from stallholders from? I bet they’re not from Montrose or Angus, so it won’t be bringing money to local businesses. Are we going to get any compensation for our loss of business?”

The Christmas Spectacular runs from 12 noon to 10 p.m. on Saturday, December 20, and midday to 8 p.m. on Sunday, December 21.

Mr Docherty said: “It’s going on too late. I think it is a recipe for disaster and there could be anti-social behaviour.”

Mr Docherty and Mr Ritchie both said they fear the Christmas Spectacular will drive shoppers way from Montrose. Both business owners have objected to Angus Council about the closure of the High Street and Murray Street on Saturday, December 20.

There are also concerns about local service buses and the long-distance X7 express coach. A driver said that he could see it causing inconvenience for passengers.

The event, formally known as the Christmas Extravaganza which ran on just a Sunday, has been organised by Montrose Events.

Tommy Stewart, secretary, said: “The businesses I have spoken to have been in favour of the Spectacular. We contacted shops that we knew would take posters and asked them to put them up, which they have done happily.

“We have spoken to 50 businesses in the High Street and only two were opposed and we have only spoken to three in Murray Street which are against it. If businesses in Murray Street are against it, we will pull the Murray Street element.

“In previous years with the Montrose Extravaganza we had around 8,000 people coming to Montrose and all the stallholders this year are local. How can that not be good for the town?

“We would hope that it will make people want to stay in the town or come to Montrose instead of going to the big cities.

“There has to be access for emergency services, so deliveries will be able to get through. We want to work with businesses and would ask that they would work with us and schedule deliveries for the mornings before the Spectacular starts at midday.

“We have sent out letters to business and residents this week and speak to shop owners on Monday.”

Lynn McComiskie, owner of Next To You lingerie shop on Murray Street, is in favour of the Spectacular. She said: “I think it will be good for the town, families and people of all ages.

“I believe it will be good for businesses in the town as it will bring people from outside to Montrose. It would be a shame for Montrose and its people if it didn’t go ahead.”