Page 24 - MarketTimesAugust2019
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It moved from that car park to its current location in 1973 and Ron traded there for four years from 1978 selling tights and stockings he got at a good price from the local factory where his mum then worked.
“It was a great market in those days,” said Ron, whose career then took a different direction for family reasons.
In 2008, North Hertfordshire District Council gave up running the market and Hitchin Markets Ltd, a not-for-profit social enterprise organisation took it over, with volunteer directors including three market traders.
The social enterprise has worked well, according to the traders, but they still have the problem of a hidden market and decreasing footfall.
Ron said the council was now looking for a
solution and had applied for funding from the Government’s high street regeneration fund.
Three proposals are on the table. The first involves opening up Churchgate and creating a market food hall with direct access from the square. There would then be a patio-type area with a general market behind it.
The second option, which is the favourite of the social enterprise directors, is to move the entire market to another car park slightly nearer the town centre.
And the third is to allow private houses to be built on the part of the market nearest the river and reducing it in size.
Ron said that the council had been considering the future of the market for the past 20 years, so traders were hoping that finally there will be a decision and some
FEATURE • HITCHIN significant investment.
John Haykin, who sells catering supplies and has been trading on the market for 40 years, said: “In the 40 years I have been trading on this market it has made lots of profits for the council, and I believe it is now payback time.
“I know we aren’t going to return to the old times. I remember the first bank holiday market I stood — you couldn’t see who you were trading opposite, it was so busy.”
John said the market started to decline 12 to 15 years ago. “We weren’t getting any improvements but the rent was increasing.”
According to John, the co-operative improved things but the council lacked interest in the market and did not see it as a key asset. But local people were supportive, he added.
Ant Whiteman, who sells tools and household
   Ron Piper joined the management team of Hitchin market four years ago and has managed it for the past two years
John Haykin who sells catering supplies has been trading on Hitchin market for 40 years
  Ant Whiteman sells tools and household goods on the market where his great-grandfather delivered fruit and veg a century ago

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