SUPPORTERS of the annual Lammas Market have rallied round to defend the event after some showmen and traders voiced their concerns for its future.
Local residents spoke up for Scotland’s oldest mediaeval street fair on the Citizen facebook page and there was also backing from some local shopkeepers, including several who reported a drop in custom during last week’s event.
Several members of the Showmen’s Guild say they will have to consider whether to return next year after their takings were reduced by a combination of rising running costs and falling income as a result of the recession.
They also called for Fife Council to reduce the rents they charge and for a relaxation on restrictions on the number of hot food stalls allowed.
Tony Fusaro, of Luvians cafe in Market Street, told the Citizen: ’’The Lammas is a traditional event that should stay.
“It is five days of the year and the youngsters love it - it’s a town tradition.
“If you do away with the Lammas you are losing part of your tradition and it does bring people into the town.
“We were a little busier this year. We are right in the centre of things so I would say we were a little busier than normal.
“Some shops are affected positively and for some it will be negative.”
That view was echoed by Stuart Minick, even though his butchers shop on South Street is badly effected by the Lammas Market right outside his front door.
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“It doesn’t suit my shop to be honest but it’s part of St Andrews and I’m all for keeping it here,” he said
“At times it can make our life a misery but it is only once a year and something that is a unique to St Andrews so I’d like to see it continue.
“It’s a tradition worth keeping.”
And Sandy Milne of Fisher & Donaldson also believes the town benefits from the Lammas even though it doesn’t boost his business.
He said: “I am very much in favour of the Lammas Market staying in the town. It does not materially affect our business one way or another.
“It is a tradition in St Andrews and something that is enjoyed by many people. It is only here for a few days and is an established tradition that attracts many visitors, even foreigners, who all enjoy it.”
But not all businesses in the town support the Lammas continuing in its current form over five days in the town centre.
Lindsay Adam, speaking as the owner of the Bonkers gift shop and not on behalf of the St Andrews Merchants’ Association, said it was time for a rethink.
She added: “As a business, my view is the Lammas is not good for us
“Our turnover suffers every year and it is five days of lost revenue. I would like it to change, somehow, perhaps run for a shorter period or the funfair park move elsewhere.”
St Andrews Merchant Association say a full review is needed.
Association secretary Lindsey Brown told the Citizen: ‘‘In view of the feedback we have received from some of our members, with some having to close their businesses and others reporting a significant drop in their average daily turnover last year, we feel a review of the Lammas Market is necessary,” .
“We have also received some more positive feedback with other businesses seeing higher footfall levels.
“We would welcome a survey of all those involved in order for us to assess the viability of themarket going forward. This should include an investigation into alternative locations out with the town centre.
“For those of us that have grown up with the Lammas Market we do hold fond memories of it and we are keen to uphold this important tradition but we recognise that the market needs to change and evolve, as do all businesses”