Fight on to help save Baldock Market

‘USE it or lose it’ is the plea from stallholders of a struggling market.

Traders at Baldock market have seen their numbers halve in the past three months with some raising concerns over its future.

Baldock Town Centre Partnership took over the running of the weekly market in December and despite a steady three months of trading, the number of stalls have since dropped from around 12 to six.

The Comet visited the market yesterday morning (Wednesday) to find out how stallholders were coping.

Family-run business N and H Greetings has set up a card stall in the High Street every week for around the last six years.

Market trader Mark North said: “We did get about a dozen (stalls) but it’s got a lot harder since the numbers have dropped. We only get a few people walking through but it’s meant to be a market town.

“It’s a bit hard at the moment but hopefully it will pick up - there’s no reason why it can’t. It’s simply ‘use it or lose it’, that should be the motto.”

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Ben Reynolds-Frost set up his stall of books, DVDs, puzzles and haberdashery when the Town Centre Partnership took over but has been a visitor to the market for many years.

He said: “It’s very hard. We have our regular customers but there hasn’t been enough supporting it (the market). I can remember in the 70s and it went all the way up the High Street. Until we can get 20 market stalls people won’t come.

“There just isn’t enough footfall. Stevenage is busy every day - if we did Baldock market down there we’d do well!

“I love the market though and it’s the only one I will do. I think it will survive because there are a number of people who come that will always come.”

Will Jackson has been trading on the market for six years - the last three spent as a greengrocer.

He added: “I have a good set of regular customers here who come every week but there are less people walking through. We just need the footfall to increase.”

Baldock resident Helen Holford, who has been using the market for the last seven years, said: “I think it’s important to support the market and local produce. It means I don’t use the car so it’s better all round really.”

Town centre manager Murray Fastier shared concerns about the state of market, adding: “The aim (when we took over) was to increase the number of stalls and to get different traders in there. We achieved that in a few months but recently people haven’t been buying. We had a fantastic cheeseman who was really good but not enough people came and brought in money for him so he’s left.

“In my opinion we will get it right and find stalls people want to see. But when we get the right traders people have to come and use them.”

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