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Councillors to debate future of markets

Councillors will debate this evening (Thursday 16 November) the future of stall markets in Ashbourne, Matlock and Wirksworth that are currently costing local Council Tax payers almost £64,000 a year to keep open.

A Review of Derbyshire Dales District Council's markets is recommending that Ashbourne's Thursday Market becomes a self-erect seasonal offering, running from April to September, and that the town's Saturday Market moves from its Market Place home to Shrovetide Walk from June next year. It is recommended that the Thursday Market closes if it doesn't meet an average occupancy level of 70% or more by the end of June 2018.

Wirksworth Market could also be moved from the town's Market Place to the Memorial Gardens and handed over to the Town Council to operate, while alternative options could be considered for Matlock's Indoor Market.

The District Council's Community & Environment Committee will hear this evening that the markets in all three towns are failing to meet the Corporate Plan target of increasing stall occupancy overall across the Derbyshire Dales to 70%.

The current average is 48%, thanks mainly to the council's profitable Monday stallmarket in Bakewel, which currently yields £111,530 a year and operates at a 91% stall occupancy. Despite a boost to stall occupancy when it moved from the Market Place to Shrovetide Walk in April this year, Ashbourne's Thursday Market is averaging only 45% and the Saturday Market 50%. Ashbourne's two markets currently cost £55,966 a year to operate, but bring in only £15,000 income in total.

Wirksworth runs at 54% occupancy, losing £9,742 a year, while Matlock Indoor Market currently has only two occupants - a butcher and a greengrocer - losing £13,269 a year.

Councillors will hear that a number of innovations have bene introduced in recent times to boost interest in the markets, including a reduced £10 hire charge for stalls in Ashbourne and Wirksworth, plus debit and card payments, regular trader forums at Bakewell, regular dialogue with the National Market Traders' Federation and the National Association of British Market Authorities, together with a new licence with input from traders.

A new 'dalesMARKETS' branding has also been introduced, with increased online presence through social media channels Facebook and Twitter and the creation of a ‘Markets’ page on the District Council’s website.

Councillors will debate this evening (Thursday 16 November) the future of stall markets in Ashbourne, Matlock and Wirksworth that are currently costing local Council Tax payers almost £64,000 a year to keep open.

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