Drumming up support

PUBLISHED: 11:45 02 November 2006 | UPDATED: 11:08 06 May 2010

Councillors Ian Knighton and Judi Billing with drummers Mehool and Karan Kale at the recent Diwali event

Councillors Ian Knighton and Judi Billing with drummers Mehool and Karan Kale at the recent Diwali event

HITCHIN market is back on the up. Since the appointment in August of market manager Lance Raperport the number of traders using stalls on both Tuesday and Saturday markets has been steadily rising. Mr Raperport, who began his new job in August, has seen s

HITCHIN market is back on the up.

Since the appointment in August of market manager Lance Raperport the number of traders using stalls on both Tuesday and Saturday markets has been steadily rising.

Mr Raperport, who began his new job in August, has seen stall utilisation rise by 15 per cent from 44 to 59 per cent on Tuesdays.

Figures for Saturdays have also gone up, with 68 per cent of stalls now being used, an increase of nine per cent. The figures were produced by the head of Leisure and Environmental Services for NHDC.

The increase is good news for Mr Raperport who has been working hard to try to turn the market around after months of growing concern about its future.

Mr Raperport, whose parents used to work on Hitchin market when he was younger, said: "I am really pleased that more traders are coming to Hitchin and hope to see an even wider variety of goods and services available."

A reduction in trading charges and a variety of well-attended events including British Food Fortnight and the recent Diwali celebrations have all helped to boost the profile of the market.

In addition, almost £12,000 has been spent on advertising and events since August to bring customers and traders in.

Despite the steady turnaround there are still some problems and North Hertfordshire District Council is appealing for youngsters to stop covering the area in rubbish.

On Saturday mornings the council's service team have had to clear up broken glass and general rubbish left from the night before and on the morning of the Diwali celebrations Mr Raperport and his staff were out at 6.30am clearing the rubbish themselves.

Youngsters are also congrega-ting in the market at lunchtimes and leaving food wrappers and debris lying about.

Cllr Ian Knighton, the council portfolio holder for the markets, is appealing to youngsters to clear up after themselves.

Cllr Knighton said: "We realise young people need somewhere to go but we would be very grateful if they could clear up behind them.

"This is not only a public area that we all like to see looking neat and tidy but its main role is as a market and a great many traders rely on it for their livelihood.

"There is also a health threat from rats which could be attracted from the nearby river if food and wrappings are left lying around."

Meanwhile the dates of the Christmas markets have been arranged.

The craft fair will be on Sunday, December 3, in the market square and will specialise in handmade craft only.

The seasonal Sunday market will be held two weeks later on December 17 and the Christmas market will be held on the normal market site on Christmas Eve.

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