Your District Council has agreed to a change of direction for failing stall markets in Ashbourne, Matlock and Wirksworth.
Markets in the three towns are currently losing a total of £64,000 a year and changes were approved last night (Thursday 16 November) by a meeting of the council’s Community & Environment Committee following a Review process.
Ashbourne’s Saturday Market will move from its Market Place home to Shrovetide Walk from June next year – a decision supported by almost 68% of people who responded to a recent survey.
Ashbourne's Thursday Market becomes a self-erect seasonal offering, running from April to September. The Thursday Market, which will continue into December this year to allow time for traders to be informed of the decision, will close for good if it doesn't meet an average occupancy level of 70% or more by the end of June 2018.
Wirksworth Town Council will receive £15,000 over three years - half of the current operational cost - to take over the town's Tuesday market and move it from the Market Place to the Memorial Hall and Gardens. A one-off payment of £12,500 by the District Council will assist with the works required to resurface the Gardens to facilitate the relocation.
Wirksworth Market will continue in the Market Place for the time being to allow for the transfer and resurfacing work to take place.
Meanwhile, alternative options will continue to be considered for Matlock's Indoor Market, which currently has only two occupants - a butcher and a greengrocer – and loses £13,269 a year.
The current average stall occupancy across the Dales’ four market towns is 48%, thanks mainly to the council's profitable Monday stall market in Bakewell, which currently yields £111,530 a year and operates at a 91% stall occupancy.
Despite a boost to stall occupancy when it was moved by the District Council 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.
Councillors heard on Thursday that a number of innovations had been 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 had 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.
- View the full report [PDF 902KB]