Sun, 24 Jan 2021
THE mayor of Hungerford has pleaded with shoppers to help keep the outdoor Wednesday market alive by considering others.
Fears had been expressed by some customers that social distancing was not being observed as strictly as it should by all.
Mayor Helen Simpson told an online meeting of the town council’s recreation and amenities committee on Tuesday: “There was a social media storm over this.”
Some shoppers complained that groups of people were stopping to chat, thus breaking social distancing rules.
On the other hand, some volunteer marshals were reportedly abused for trying to encourage adherence to regulations.
Mrs Simpson said she had offered to work with the Town & Manor charity, which oversees the weekly market, to try to help it to resolve the situation.
She said she asked members of the neighbourhood police team to visit the facility and offer feedback and added: “They did have to have a chat with the fruit and veg man, which is always one of the busiest stalls, and they made recommendations about better signage and maintaining gaps.”
Consequently, more signs and extra volunteer marshalls have been arranged, the meeting was told.
Mrs Simpson told the Newbury Weekly News: “It’s worth pointing out that, although the Town & Manor licence the market, the stallholders are independent.
“The police did say that, on the whole, it was fine.
“The outdoor market is inherently part of Hungerford history.
“I think most people feel safer outdoors than in a supermarket.
“It would be a shame to lose it.
“I’d just like to ask people to be considerate to one another and to use the market safely.”
The Town & Manor said in a statement: “We would like to thank all the customers who have supported the market during lockdown and since its gradual relaxation... all research suggests that transmission of viruses is a lot less likely to happen outdoors rather than in, so you should be able to continue to shop here with confidence.
“A huge thank you also to the stallholders who have kept it going.”
The statement added: “The stalls are limited to those who can still work within the current Government guidelines; these include pet food, horticultural supplies, food and drink.
“The market is for essential use only and should not be used as a meeting place; all stallholders will be advised to wear face coverings.”
All those visiting the market are requested to wear face coverings and to keep a minimum of 2m apart.
There will be 2m distance markings on the pavement guiding those shoppers who are waiting.