More market days for Aylsham and North Walsham

PUBLISHED: 18:15 25 August 2012 | UPDATED: 18:54 25 August 2012

Aylsham's re-launched Friday market.

Aylsham's re-launched Friday market. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY


Regular and varied market days are set to become a crowd-pulling feature of Aylsham following a community drive to boost the town.

Flea market for North Walsham

A flea market will be held in North Walsham’s St Nicholas Court shopping precinct on September 27, from 10am-3pm.

The idea is the brainchild of the town team, formed to bid for the government Portas cash scheme.

Member Vivienne Uprichard, who is also a town and north Norfolk district councillor, said they wanted to encourage as many people as possible into the precinct, which has been struggling for more than a year and still has a number of empty units.

“There are still things we can do to help North Walsham even though we didn’t get the Mary Portas money,” she said.

If successful, the flea markets would be held monthly.

● Anyone interested in booking a £5 pitch should contact Mrs Uprichard at North Walsham Town Council on 01692 404114 or April Vogel, Griffon Area Partnership, 01692 407509.

The first of what is hoped will become monthly specialist Saturday markets takes place on September 29, with continental stalls earmarked for Red Lion Street on October 19 and a three-day “frost fair”, from November 29, planned to coincide with Aylsham’s Christmas lights switch-on celebrations.

The moves coincide with a successful re-launch of Aylsham’s traditional Friday market which was in danger of folding because of wrangles over parking restrictions in the picturesque Market Place.

The town already hosts farmers’ markets on the first and third Saturdays of the month, and a Monday market coinciding with the popular Keys auctioneers’ sale.

Aylsham’s drive to reinstate market days as an important part of community life is echoed in North Walsham, which is planning a town-centre flea market (see inset).

"We’d like to get to the stage where we have markets on three days each week so that people think of Aylsham as somewhere to go to see a proper market town in action."

Deborah Blake, chairman of Aylsham Business and Enterprise Forum.

Both communities lost out earlier this summer on up to £100,000 of government cash to help their towns - in a project spearheaded by retail-guru Mary Portas - but both are, nevertheless, determined to act positively.

Deborah Blake, chairman of the Aylsham Business and Enterprise Forum (Abef), said competition for shops was healthy.

“We all need to try and increase footfall and markets bring more people in because they offer more choice and a buzzing atmosphere.”

She added: “We’d like to get to the stage where we have markets on three days each week so that people think of Aylsham as somewhere to go to see a proper market town in action.”

Abef wanted to encourage entrepreneurs and craftspeople to take stalls at the specialist markets where a potter was already signed up among stallholders for the first event.

Some 20 European stalls were expected at the continental street market while the frost fair, which would be held in a Market Place marquee, would feature stalls, a story-teller and “a few surprises.”

Town clerk Mo Anderson-Dungar said businesses and stallholders had complained that customers were being deterred after enforcement officers slapped tickets on vehicles parked in Market Place during the small Friday market held there.

Although the area was officially a pedestrianised zone on Fridays, the town council wanted discretion used so that the sign could be covered and parking allowed if there were only a few stalls present.

Now the council and long-standing stallholders have united to solve the problem by boosting stall numbers, which had fallen as low as three, aiming eventually to fill Market Place completely. Last week saw nine Friday stalls, with another two expected next Friday, August 31.

● For information on Friday markets contact Aylsham Town Council 01263 733354. Specialist markets: Deborah Blake 01263 739990.

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