OBSERVER COLUMN: It’s time for action over market future


Over the past few years I have commented many times on the apparent loss of many of the market stalls which used to be in the Market Place and on The Green.

In response, the councillor who used to be in charge of town centre affairs at that time was quick to point out I didn’t know what I was talking about, that market traders were queuing up to take any stalls which might be vacated – even when there were some? – and that the market was ‘thriving’. I hoped that with such a big change of councillors at the last borough election things might improve, that we might get people who were going to change things. But I have been disappointed.

I mentioned only a couple of weeks ago that a friend who didn’t usually make too many comments about what was happening in the town had asked if I thought there were less stalls than usual? Well, things haven’t changed for the better! Last Wednesday’s market had several empty stalls; there is now even a space cordoned off in the Market Place in front of the NatWest bank where stalls used to be, and many more were not filled. The Green was no better. I can remember the time, not so many years ago, when that area was almost completely filled with stalls but now there appear to be more food outlets and only the long-established auction.

No doubt West Street will reply that many stallholders are away on holiday; that never used to be the case. Stallholders were fully aware that the holiday period bought in visitors from the coast and they made sure they always attended the market. Looking back, it all results from the ‘refurbishment’ carried out on our behalf. Time for someone in authority – perhaps our local leaders – to decide to take some action before the market goes the way of almost everything the town holds dear.

I notice also that the borough council have no ‘formal plans’ to mark our hockey girls’ achievements. Pity the girls didn’t take an interest in flower displays, isn’t it? That’s also a gold medal event!