'Health check' recommends cutting market days in Wisbech and separating car boot sales - perhaps moving them to 'outer town car park'
PUBLISHED: 15:00 01 October 2019
A 'health check' of Wisbech market provided by trading experts has recommended a 14 point action plan to include reducing trading days and reviewing the car boot sales.
The report has been prepared by the National Association of British Markets (NAMBA) who visited the town in August following a request from Helen Keppell, the then operations and assets manager at the town council.
Ms Keppell, who has since left her post, met the NAMBA consultant Rob Nixon- with Councillor Andy Maul.
Mr Nixon says that whilst the idea of market days "adds colour and a dynamic to the town" he questions the wisdom of running them seven days a week.
"The traditional market days are Thursday and Saturday which still appear to be strong market days as does not unsurprisingly Friday. The same cannot be said for Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday and having just two regular traders on a Sunday is of little value.
"The value of these days as traditional market days must as a result be open to conjecture."
Mr Nixon's produces figures which show Thursdays are the second most popular market day (13 stalls and one casual) "and as such it makes no sense to hold a car boot sale alongside a market on this day."
He says it would be better to try to further build the market and if a second car boot or bric-a-brac offering is required, this should be moved to a former market day of Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday "and branded as such and operated in a much more organised and proficient way without the sale of new goods."
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Several suggestions - including a £1 a day charge for stall holders to promote the market - are included in the NAMBA report.
It also urges the council to monitor feedback from traders, retailers and the pubic to "arrive a fuller understanding" of reducing the number of market days.
Cutting the days "would help increase the significance of the remaining market days and concentrate market shopper expenditure to the benefit of traders on the remaining trading days," says the report.
"Such a move will always be controversial and likely to be opposed by displaced traders and by those shop retailers who consider they benefit from market generated footfall."
NAMBA also suggests the town council should separate car boot sales from the market.
"Merging a car boot sale with a general market on such a relatively small site will not be visually impressive for such an otherwise pleasant town location," says the report.
"As such it is recommended that consideration is given to the separation of car boot and market. The car boot may be better situated on an outer town car park and only supported by a catering vehicle for which a premium charge should be made."
Town council leader Samantha Hoy said: "Thanks for checking if the report is confidential, a welcome change. As you will see in the report it was a free service.
"We will not be providing any comment on this."