OBSERVER: Are we looking at two very different markets?

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I WONDER if I might have acquired yet another illustrious reader to add to the one I gained when I first started the column?

In an article on the Boston Borough Council website Coun Derek Richmond refers to some uninformed ‘observations’ (my quotes) about there being fewer stalls now in the Market Place, and a suggestion that the council has turned business away.

This sounds pretty close to comments I made a few weeks ago about the newly-refurbished Market Place when I felt there were fewer stalls, more empty ones and heard that few irregular traders these days turn up in the hopes of getting one.

Not so, says Coun Richmond, commenting that ‘previously vacant stalls are now occupied in a more compact and traditionally laid-out space’. There’s no reduction in stalls, and there is a waiting list, he says. And of course it was true some stalls were empty in July and August; but that was because the traders were taking holidays like everyone else.

Unless traders’ thinking has changed somewhat, I think the only time you could guarantee a really full Market Place was in the summer holidays – the traders always used to take their holidays early in January, and not in this country. Summer was always the time they made money.

But Coun Richmond doesn’t appear to have taken his rose-tinted specs off to notice that, as I stated, there are now only two rows of stalls on the same side as the Stump (there used to be three), and the space now occupied by the outdoor café – at least one welcome addition to the Market Place! – used to be full of stalls also. They no longer extend as far as Boots as they used to do, on the opposite side, and there are still empty stalls.

So it seems I might be looking at one Market Place and Coun Richmond another.

As for no business being turned away, my comment was in response to what I was told by a stallholder who has been on the market for many years; he claimed several were told there was ‘no room’ when the market was moved to Bargate – and they now refuse to return.