THE future of Newbury’s historic market – which dates back to the 13th century – has been thrown into doubt over plans which could see traders having to park more than a mile away from the town centre.
Currently, those who have a stall at the Thursday and Saturday markets can park their vehicles in allocated spaces at the coach station at the Wharf.
But West Berkshire Council’s decision to relocate Newbury bus station from Market Street to the Wharf will result in those spaces being removed.
The district council is concerned about the loss of car parking revenue, which might result from allowing traders to park in a town centre location for the rates they currently pay.
So far, the only alternative the council has put forward is for traders to park in Newtown Road and walk into town.
Many traders – and even Newbury Town Council’s market manager Steve Brind – have written to West Berkshire Council to express their concerns, with some warning it could spell the end of the market.
Venus and Chris Cardwell, who run the Isidro’s street food stall, said: “We’re really sad and disappointed that this is the only offer we have received from the council re trader parking spaces.
“For the traders themselves to be away from their stalls for 15 minutes (walking distance one way to Old Newtown Road back to Northbrook Street, two-way about 35 minutes) is not that convenient.
“We hope other parking options can be considered, else the market will slowly lose its traders.”
Kathy Osborne, who has a stall called Shedkraft selling hand-made wooden crafts, said: “Myself and other market traders are sole traders.
“We work on our own and have to leave our gazebos with all of our stock at our pitch while we park our vehicles and return for them.
“Presently we can do this quickly as the parking is close.
“However, should we have to use Newtown Road, our stock and livelihood are at risk for much longer.”
Malcolm Smith, from A and S Meats, said: “Of late the amount of traders attending regularly has diminished and my concern is that some traders may choose to move on to towns where parking is more convenient.”
Michael and Emily Broun who have the Egg/Farm Shop Stall, said: “In our opinion, if this proposal is implemented, it will draw an end to Newbury Market as we know it now, and several traders have suggested they will leave.”
At a recent Newbury Town Council meeting, James Fredrickson (Con, Victoria) who also sits on West Berkshire Council, said there was ‘likely’ to be another proposal put forward, but said he was not going to discuss what it was in a public meeting for ‘confidentiality reasons’.
There is a meeting planned between the town council and West Berkshire Council’s chief executive, Nick Carter, to discuss the issue.
The market has a long history in Newbury, and it is believed to have been in place since Anglo-Saxon times.
Earliest records show that a toll was received from the market in 1205.
A Royal Charter was granted in 1596.