Page 40 - MarketTimesDecember2017
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New-look Leighton Buzzard Market
  REPORT
Market Times • December 2017
is relaunched
By NICOLA GOULD
gazebos, a web site and promotion of the market,” she said.
LEIGHTON BUZZARD Market in long-serving trader who understood how
Bedfordshire has celebrated its brand-new look with a relaunch ceremony following a £113,000 investment programme.
markets work.
Adrian Harrison sold mature womenswear on
Traditionally the traders set up stall on both sides of the wide market street, but The Retail Group believed it would be better for all the stalls to be grouped on the pedestrianised side of the street around the ancient market cross.
The sun shone as the town crier announced the relaunch. There were plenty of dignitaries in attendance and live music livened up proceedings.
the market for 40 years and had been a traders’ rep liaising with the council. He began managing the market in January and was officially appointed manager in June.
The traders welcomed the investment, but there was no consensus on the way forward. Some traders have chosen to stick with their traditional stalls and several food traders have refused to move from their pitches to consolidate the market.
And although not every trader was 100 per cent happy with the revamp, locals certainly seemed to like the more uniform market, with its brand-new blue and white gazebos.
Vivien said: “The town council initially carried out a residents’ survey which suggested that locals were glad the town had a market but they didn’t necessarily use it.”
Leighton Buzzard Market dates from a charter granted in 1086. It’s an enterprising town which can boast it has succeeded in selling sand to Saudi Arabia.
The council realised that situation needed to change and funding was available in the form of a grant from Central Bedfordshire Council, she said.
Vivien said: “The meat, fish and fruit and veg traders do not want to move because they say there can be too much sun on the other side of the street which isn’t good for fresh produce.”
The area has a big sand quarrying industry and the sand’s high silica content means it is suitable for making high quality windows, hence the unusual export success.
It appointed The Retail Group to come up with ideas to improve the market.
And several traders argue that their businesses cannot be run from a gazebo.
The enterprising spirit is equally alive and well on the market, which used to be run by a private operator until Leighton-Linslade Town Council took over its running from South Bedfordshire District Council in 2012.
The consultants carried out a survey of shops and market traders. Leighton Buzzard has some good, independent shops with few empty units, and the shopkeepers said they liked the market and did better on market days.
Paul Harris, who has been selling fruit and veg on the market with his brother Geoff for 25 years, said: “I think the gazebos look fine but they are not suitable for my business.”
Vivien Cannon, the council’s head of cultural and economic services, concedes that the council had no experience of running a market and there were two market managers in succession before it was decided to appoint a
Vivien said: “The survey suggested that something wasn’t right with the market. The consultants said the look was a problem. There was too much sprawl, hence there was little room for new traders. And there needed to be investment in equipment including new
This has been welcomed by many traders.
The traders, on the other hand, said footfall was poor and the market was getting worse.
The council has changed the rent from £2.10 a foot for frontage to a standard £19 for a three metre by three metre pitch, which includes the rent of the gazebo which is erected for them.
But businesses like the cards stall are unhappy because they rely on displaying a wide range of
 For the relaunch NMTF President and President-Elect John Dyson and Michael Nicholson joined the town’s mayor and deputy mayor Syed Rahman and Clive Farmer, along with other officials
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