Page 25 - MarketTimesJune2014
P. 25

 the market back ket Harborough
People power saved Market Harborough indoor market
following a council asset review. Now the new-look market has
justified the investment, with footfall up and occupancy almost
doubled following a £480,000 investment. NICOLA GOULD
 reports
When Harborough District Council announced it was considering moving the market and using the building as a replacement for its ageing civic building, traders feared the writing was on the wall.
But they hadn’t appreciated how much the public valued Market Harborough Market, which dates back to a charter granted in 1204.
Following a campaign, which mustered a petition signed by hundreds, along with plenty of media coverage, the battle was won.
Instead of moving the market, the council has invested £480,000 in upgrading it.
And the result ticks all the boxes for the
council, the traders and the town alike. Malcolm Garrett, who has sold haberdashery
on the market for the past 24 years, believes the investment could herald a return to much better times.
He can remember the days when Harborough was a flourishing market in the old wooden hall next to the cattle market.
It has moved location over the years until 1993, when it set up stall in its current, purpose-built home next to the newly built St Mary’s Shopping Centre.
Times were good at first, Malcolm recalls, but changing shopping habits affected footfall and the years took their toll on the market.
John Cleaver, who has run Selvey & Co jewellers and watch repairers in the market for the past nine years, said: “The market had become run down and tired. The food hall was down to three or four traders and things were looking bad.”
Mark Perris, corporate asset manager for the council, who project managed the revamp, agrees that the market was in a bad way.
“It was staid and stagnant,” he said. “Occupancy was down to about 50 per cent and something needed to be done.”
And it wasn’t just the building that needed a makeover. The market hadn’t been particularly well managed, Mark says. The combination of straightened times, and the public outcry over the proposed move, focused minds on how best to improve the market and transform it into the money making asset every market should be.
The council brought in market consultants Quarterbridge to help with the revamp, and traders were moved to wooden cabins in The Square at the end of December to allow the work to take place.
Bad weather meant that traders had a difficult time, despite the good location, according to John Cleaver.
But the upgrade has transformed the market and traders agree that the pain was worth the gain.
Improvements include a new layout. The food area was retiled and transformed into a vibrant hall for fresh and hot food. Dividing walls between stalls were lowered to give better visibility. A new entrance to the food hall was built and a centralised cafe area was created as a hub. Existing toilets were reopened and made accessible from the inside of the market, and new lights were installed. A cooking demonstration area has been added to attract new shoppers, and gazebos add to the colour and vibrancy.
 Pictured with the Town Crier at the celebration day to mark the relaunch of the market are (left to right): NMTF National President Michael Nicholson; NABMA President Kevan Wainwright; TV’s Apprentice star Adam Corbally, Mayor Coun Geraldine Robinson and Coun Phil King
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