THE organisation that runs York's Christmas market has hit back at claims the event was a "disaster" over the weekend.

Make It York said additional stewards had been drafted in to help at St Nicholas Fair over busy periods - and the event brings in more than £50 million to the city over the festive period.

More than 500 online readers gave their verdict on York’s packed Christmas market - which is run by Make it York - after The Press reported how congested pavements had once again slowed shoppers to a shuffle.

Shoppers from all over the country poured in to York at the weekend, many heading straight for the market in Parliament Street, and despite new measures put in place to tackle overcrowding at peak times, the vast majority on Facebook, Twitter and The Press’ website were critical - suggesting that the event was "a total disaster", a "complete no-no for wheelchair users" and "it was no fun getting stuck in crowds".

Sean Bullick, managing director of Make It York, said: “We’ve had a lot of positive feedback from those attending St Nicholas Fair this year and the increased footfall in the city has been a real benefit for the traders and local businesses.

"Last year’s Christmas festival saw over £57 million pounds being spent in the city during the festive period, which provided a real boost to the local economy and brought in over 350,000 visitors. The Christmas markets are also a marvellous opportunity to showcase our city on the national stage – with significant national media interest and multiple awards win including York being voted the UK's Most Festive City.

"Whilst we appreciate that at peak times the markets may be busy, safety is our utmost priority and we have implemented a number of measures this year to aid with this – including having additional stewards on-site over the weekend to help to manage the crowds, and changing the layout to ease congestion.

"We welcome all feedback on the Christmas markets to help us continue to improve St Nicholas Fair for both residents and visitors in the future.

Phil Pinder, chair of the York Retail Forum, added that people should relish how the market helps local jobs, businesses and the hospitality sector as a whole.

He said: “The market isn't perfect and work could be done to help improve access but it brings in people from afar for short trips and longer stays, which is a great benefit to local businesses and helps to supply local jobs in the hospitality and retail sector.

"Things can always be improved but we should be grateful that York's high street is thriving in a difficult time for the high street."

Some readers did insist that their visit to the market had been a great experience.

One posted: “Had an amazing time in York city centre. Xmas lights and fantastic Xmas fair very busy, giving a wonderful atmosphere,” while a second commented: “Well done York... great atmosphere,” and a third said: “It was busy but have to say had a fab time with my son.”

Other positive comments included: "Loved it! What a great buzz,” and “ The market was fantastic, as was the atmosphere.”

Another said that having been in retail and in York city centre, they felt encouraging people into the city was "much needed".