Santa will be back in his grotto at Huddersfield’s Queensgate Market this Christmas.

Youngsters were left disappointed last year when the grotto – which cost £5,000 to run – was axed in a funding row.

Previously traders had shared the cost as part of the service charge paid to Kirklees Council.

But a new lease meant the ‘grotto tax’ could no longer be added by the council and Santa was sent packing.

This year Huddersfield Indoor Market Tenants’ Association has teamed up with Kirkwood Hospice and local businesses to bring Santa back in from the cold.

A grotto has been built in the heart of the market and Santa will be handing out presents every weekend until Christmas. All profits will go to the hospice.

Three-year-old Mylie Afsar and Honey Toohey meet Santa.
Three-year-old Mylie Afsar and Honey Toohey meet Santa.
 

Association chairman Mark Smith said the grotto had been 12 months in the planning as traders contacted the Dalton-based hospice last year but it was too late to save Christmas.

With the help of KD Decorations, Steve’s Carpets and markets manager Chris Cotton the grotto became a reality.

Mark said: “Last year there was no grotto for various reasons and people missed it. We get families asking all the time if there’s a Santa’s grotto.

“People who have seen it say it’s looking great. It’s in the middle of the market and well sign-posted.

“It creates an atmosphere and really makes Christmas for the market.”

Traders were left fuming last year when the grotto was pulled, blaming the council for letting families down.

Visiting Santa at the market had become an annual tradition for thousands of people. In 2012 alone 1,000 children queued to tell Santa what they wanted for Christmas.

Apart from the grotto Huddersfield’s Churches Together has brought the town centre nativity scene into the market.

Santa’s grotto will be open on Saturdays and Sundays December 6, 7, 13, 14, 20 and 21 (11am-3pm) and for Thursday late night shopping on December 11 and 18 (4.30pm-7.30pm) and December 22, 23 and 24 (11am-3pm).

It costs £4 per child or three for £10. Each child receives a present.