Save our market
RESCUE attempts are under way as traders try to salvage their struggling market. Stallholders complain that nothing is being done to help Hitchin Market, putting its future in doubt. They want to make the market a more prosperous and vibrant place, undoin
RESCUE attempts are under way as traders try to salvage their struggling market.
Stallholders complain that nothing is being done to help Hitchin Market, putting its future in doubt.
They want to make the market a more prosperous and vibrant place, undoing the deterioration it has suffered over the last few years and have devised a plan of action.
A business strategy has been formulated, which tackles some key concerns including pitch rents, parking arrangements, ways to entice new traders and reshaping the site.
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They are keen to highlight that their plans will be value for money and easily implemented, saying that the time is right to "act on long-standing issues and problems".
Stallholders hope that the implementation of this plan, alongside co-operation and support from the council, will safeguard the historic market's future.
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Traders' spokesman John Haykin wants to see action taken now.
He said: "While all the debates continue, nothing is being done to or for the market.
"Marketers believe that the current system is a deterrent to both new and existing customers."
The business plan lists some key actions, which traders believe should be implemented as soon as possible.
They recommend that:
l Rent should be reassessed and reduced in many cases
l New traders need to be actively encouraged
l The Biggin Lane car park should be reopened to the public
l Public toilets be improved
l Some stalls are removed to allow vehicle access and trading from vehicles
Traders feel strongly that they have not been listened to by North Herts District Council and have complained that their warnings and advice have been ignored.
One of the plan's considerations is that the management of the market should be passed directly to Keith Hoskins, the town centre manager, thereby dealing with "the inability of NHDC to run the main market..."
Mr Hoskins said: "We have been working much more closely [with Hitchin Market] and it's one of our aims to enable the entire business community to network and work together, which of course includes the market.
"I think there are certain elements of the market's plan that could be implemented fairly quickly.
"The parking changes would be a benefit for the market, businesses and shoppers.
"I think in the medium to long term we should look to work ever more closely with the market traders.
"We've got to have a bit more lateral thinking about how we can support business generally in the town."
The business plan has been presented to councillors and will be discussed at the Hitchin committee meeting next Tuesday (April 18).