October 22 2014 Latest news:
Alex Hurrell, Reporter
Wednesday, March 26, 2014
Cheaper stall rents are among a new clutch of incentives aimed at boosting north Norfolk’s struggling street markets.
North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) has announced the measures in the hope that they will help regular traders and encourage new ones at the markets it manages in Sheringham, Cromer and Stalham.
In recent years all three have seen a fall in the number of market traders attending and, in Stalham’s case, there is now only one regular stallholder, selling burgers.
The council wants to try and ensure that traditional markets keep playing an important part in the economies of the three towns.
It plans to cut regular traders’ rents by 10pc, reduce charity stalls’ rent to £5 - with charities able to book up to 12 places a year - cut rates for new starters for the first eight weeks, offer gazebos to rent for new starters and charities, and boost market advertising.
In return, traders would be expected to get rid of their own waste, rather than relying on the council to collect it.
Rhodri Oliver, NNDC deputy leader, said: “Everyone loves to wander around a traditional market, whether they live locally or are on holiday.
“But traders have been having a tough time in recent years so we want to do all that we can to encourage more regular traders, which in turn will encourage more regular shoppers.”
But one prominent Stalham trader said the only real incentive which would boost high street and market trade would be free car parking.
Mike Hicks, whose Stalham Antique Gallery is opposite the town’s High Street market site, said the market had once been a thriving attraction, drawing people into Stalham from a wide area every Tuesday.
But the arrival of Tesco had sent it into a sharp decline because people were “corralled” in the store’s free car park at the other end of town, shopped in Tesco and left.
“The district council need to get the fundamentals right,” said Mr Hicks who has been in Stalham for 30 years.
“If you want to encourage people to shop in Stalham, you have got to have adequate, free parking.”
He also called for market stalls to be free, with traders selected by a market committee, and for a large sandwich board to be placed on the Stalham bypass on market days to entice people to visit.
“People would love to have a good market here,” he added. “It adds to the flavour and character of the place, but it needs promoting properly.”
■ What are your views on the county’s street markets? Write to: EDPLetters@archant.co.uk