Santa set to move after 'missing a trick' by castle
THE Santa's grotto in Carmarthen has been branded a flop, with some traders claiming it disrupted their business.
Town centre leaders say the attraction in Nott Square beneath the castle walls during the end of November and December failed to attract enough interest and organisers had "missed a trick".
Bosses at Commercial Christmas, which ran the grotto, say they will look for a new location in town for 2013.
Carmarthenshire Council said it was confident it would be improved when it returned.
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Marc Scaife, who runs the Con Passionata restaurant in Nott Square, said: "The grotto was very charming but I and others get the impression that it wasn't successful.
"Once children had been there to see Santa it seemed to lose its appeal because there can only be so many children in Carmarthen who visited Santa.
"So as Christmas got nearer it did not seem busy, which was a shame."
Laura Harvey-Smith and her daughter Sarah-Anne Harvey-Smith, who own nail and beauty salon Pinkie Treats in Bridge Street, said loud music prevented them from offering a full service one Saturday.
Sarah-Anne said: "The music from the grotto was so loud that we couldn't even hear the radio in our salon.
"I had to stop doing facial treatments in the back room because the music ruined the relaxing atmosphere needed for customers."
The grotto was discussed by members of Carmarthen Chamber of Commerce at their January meeting.
Mike Pugh, manager of St Catherine's Walk, said: "The organisers really missed a trick.
"The rest of the town was not told about the grotto but we could have arranged advertising on it.
"The grotto was no competition to us so nobody would have lost out, the town would have benefited more."
Tim Lewis of Commercial Christmas conceded visitor numbers were disappointing but denied music had been disruptive.
He added: "I only had three and a half weeks to plan it and, yes, the numbers were lower than what we hoped for, but at the same time I expected a low number.
"This was year one of a five- year plan so next year we will probably move it to either Guildhall Square or St Catherine's Walk.
"We would then put an ice rink where the grotto was this year."
A spokesman for Carmarthenshire Council said the grotto was originally set for Merlin's Walk but that was not feasible.
He added: "The council had one complaint about noise from the grotto, which was reduced when reported."
Speaking about the lack of visitors, he added: "In hindsight, it is accepted the company overestimated the potential numbers that could be attracted from this area of the town and that the grotto was too large for a project of this type in its first year."
He said it will be improved this year.