THE leader of Newbury Town Council has called for improvements to be made to the town’s historic charter market following a ‘two-year decline’.
Adrian Edwards (Con, Falkland) told fellow councillors the number of stalls and diversity of goods on offer had noticeably declined and said the council would be working with traders to enhance the bi-weekly market.
The market, which is held every Thursday and Saturday, dates back to the 13th century and was granted a Royal Charter in 1596.
Mr Edwards made the comments during his leader’s report at a meeting of the full council on Monday.
Addressing the town hall council chamber, he said: “It has been noticeable that the number of stalls and diversity of goods has declined in the last two years.
“However, there has been a recent change with new market managers and they are very enthusiastic in attempting to make the market more attractive and increase the number of stalls.
“The market working group will be looking at supporting the managers and making suggestions on improvements and advertising the markets.”
In December last year, Malcolm and Debbie Smith, of A&S Meats, took over as managers of the market after long-standing market manager Steve Brind retired.
Following the meeting, Mr Edwards told the Newbury Weekly News that work must be done to attract both customers and traders to Market Place.
He said: “We’ve had a lot of new stalls in Northbrook Street, selling pottery and crafts, but they are doing better than those in Market Place.
“Believe it or not that bridge makes a difference.
“People tend to shop in the north part of the town and neglect the southern part.”
Chairwoman of Newbury Town Council’s market working group Martha Vickers (Lib Dem, Northcroft) said the council was hoping to attract more food stalls to the market while also considering forms of entertainment in Market Place.
Mrs Vickers also agreed that more needs to be done to attract shoppers from Northbrook Street into Market Place.
“Getting people to think of Market Place as somewhere to shop is a problem,” she said.
“I was pleased that the leader chose to highlight the market in his report.
“It is there but not a lot of attention has been paid to it.
“Newbury is a market town and it is intrinsic to our identity.”
In his leader’s report, Mr Edwards also told councillors of the success of the new paddle gates at the Wharf public toilets.
A new turnstile system was installed at the end of May, along with a 20p entrance charge.
Mr Edwards said: “No complaints have been received on either the cost of the toilets nor its operation.
“It has had a dramatic effect in that the amount of litter left in the building has diminished significantly and there has been no drug paraphernalia found.”