Page 20 - MarketTimesJune2014
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  REPORT
Market Times • June 2014
Reading’s forgotten market
By NICOLA GOULD
IT WAS once a bustling market, as you might expect for a town which has aspirations for city status. But Reading Market has suffered a double whammy.
As well as battling the change in shopping habits, the market has found itself increasingly stranded outside the retail heart of Reading, following the opening of The Oracle Shopping Centre and a subsequent shift in the flow of footfall in the Berkshire town.
Gerry Shears, who manages the market for Town and Country Markets, has become more and more concerned, to the point of alarm.
He believes the market needs to be relocated, and has identified a central street as the ideal place, but scheduled water and electricity works mean that a relocation cannot happen any time soon.
Meanwhile, the planned closure of the civic centre, which also houses a busy post office, means that the last draw that brings people through the market will disappear.
Gerry said: “We are in a very difficult situation. The market has dwindled and footfall is going down.”
The market runs along Hosier Street into St Mary’s Butts. It is a charter market dating back to 1565 and takes place on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
Gerry said: “The market has been here since the 1960s, but things
Gerry Shears, who manages Reading market for Town and Country Markets, is pictured on the Saturday market
changed in the 1980s with the opening of The Oracle Shopping Centre, which has all the big name stores in it.”
Broad Street is Reading’s traditional High Street. But over the years the market has been left out on a limb and has begun to look tired and neglected.
To be fair to the council, an unfortunate combination of factors has hampered prospects for the
market. Before the banking crisis, the civic centre was set to make way for a big development on the site that would have included a new market, but the recession scuppered those plans.
Gerry would like to see the market relocated to West Street, off Broad Street, which would involve pedestrianisation and rerouting buses.
“I have suggested this to the
council,” he said. “But the problem is that there are going to be major roadworks that will affect West Street, St Mary’s Butts and the market area.”
Thames Water will be laying pipes along St Mary’s Butts and West Street, and Scottish and Southern Electricity (SSE) are carrying out major work at a substation at St Mary’s Butts, which will involve hoardings
   Majid Ali, who sells rugs and bedding, says he meets shoppers who shop in the town centre regularly and say they had no idea Reading had a market
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