ONE year on from the big Christmas controversy, a major retailer is still unhappy with Bournemouth’s festive market, even though most traders are said to be content.

Beales boss Tony Brown caused a storm last year after describing the market in the town square as “burgers, booze and tat”.

The market operators S&D Leisure have upped their game with public events this year.

But Mr Brown told the Echo: “I think it’s not a lot different.

“We should be encouraging good quality Christmas markets. I would cite the example of Winchester.

“A bit more craft, a bit more food and a lot more innovation.”

He is pushing for a market that focuses on high-quality retailers.

The current market is based around socialising – the biggest attractions are a gluhwein bar and a stage that has hosted brass bands and DJs.

The December meeting of Bournemouth’s Chamber of Trade heard the children’s lantern parade led to a 100 per cent increase in the number of people in town that day.

Chamber president Nigel Hedges said there seemed to be good levels of shoppers, though he has had complaints about the Christmas lights.

He said: “I have yet to meet any traders that are unhappy with the market. If they were unhappy, they would be kicking at my door.”

Town centre manager Roger Parker said: “The market seems to be retaining people quite well and seems to have been blessed with good weather.

“It’s certainly had an extra impact in the early evening because of the extra entertainment programme.

“There seems to be a much greater desire to dwell in the town.”

He told the Echo the council had worked over the past five years to improve the market and made some progress.

He said: “At least 50 per cent of the traders are locally based, which is increasingly the way we want to go.”

The contract for future markets is up for tender.

Mr Brown is chairman of the town centre’s Business Improvement District (BID) steering group. He said a BID could be used to “encourage a broader range of stakeholders and create the best Christmas market on the south coast”.