Market future in the balance

THE future of Sandy market remains in the balance. This week a new company took over the running of the market following the sudden death of Charlie O Brien soon after he was given a three-year contract to oversee the market. The market is back in the han

THE future of Sandy market remains in the balance.

This week a new company took over the running of the market following the sudden death of Charlie O'Brien soon after he was given a three-year contract to oversee the market.

The market is back in the hands of Wendy Fair Markets which ran the business for five years before losing the contract to Mr O'Brien last October.

Sandy Town Council was hoping the market could be revived under Mr O'Brien but say the future is far from rosy.


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"Wendy Fair Markets have a year to see what they can do with it," said town council clerk Trevor Stewart.

"The whole market industry is suffering. It is impossible to say whether it can survive.

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"At its most successful there were 28 stalls. It struggles to attract 16 now. If the market goes the council might consider pay and display over the whole car park. The council might make more money from parking than the market."

Last Friday there was an air of desperation from an almost deserted market with just nine stalls and a handful of customers.

One trader, Samantha Miller who runs the tea and food bar, said she wouldn't be back this week because she cannot survive on the income she is making there.

"I'm not making enough to make it worthwhile travelling here," said Mrs Miller.

"I normally have a helper but I haven't now because I can't afford to pay her wages. The week after Christmas there were only three stalls trading on the site and today it is almost deserted.

"I am just about earning enough money to pay for the petrol to get home."

Ray Goldman and his wife Gelly have been selling cakes and sweets at Sandy market for the past 20 years and also run stalls at markets in Dunstable, Leighton Buzzard and Ampt-hill.

"Sainsbury's have taken a third of our trade since they opened," said Mr Goldman.

"Twenty years ago trade here was superb but is a struggle now, especially in the winter."

Fruit and vegetables stall holder Mark Champney was very despondent saying: "I personally feel there is no future here. I am considering leaving.

"People who usually come to markets are disappearing and business has been very quiet for a while now.

"It would be better if the market moved to the Market Square where people are shopping. It would give it a better chance of surviving."

Novelty stall trader Peter Barrett hoped trade would pick up in the summer.

"I sold more goods on e-bay this week than I have on my stall, which pretty much sums things up," said Mr Barrett.

Butcher Martin Young said trade was poor and traders also faced increases in rents.

"The site can hold 26 stalls and there are nine here today. That explains the situation markets are in."

Nick Hobday, director of Wendy Fair Markets, said: "We will run it how we used to run it. We will be looking for new traders and we feel Sandy market has a future. Having the market in the Market Square would be a benefit to shoppers.

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