Portas pilot fuelled pride in Market Rasen says study

Mary Portas - Market Rasen
Mary Portas - Market Rasen

The monthly MR BIG markets have boosted Market Rasen and fuelled a sense of pride in the town.

They have also raised awareness of the need for Rasen to have many independent retailers to keep shoppers in its high street, as well as keep its free parking.

The findings are from Tealby student Jonny Purkiss who as part of his degree-level studies is studying the impact of Rasen’s Portas Pilot Scheme and its associated MR BIG market initiatives.

More than 250 locals took part, who seemed sceptical of the impact of the Portas Pilot, even though they felt events linked with it, such as the markets, or a tidy up of Market Rasen, had improved the town.

“A large proportion of people ‘agree’ that the introduction of the ‘Big Market’ has improved Market Rasen’s appeal. This contributes towards meeting the objective set out by Mary Portas for Market Rasen to ‘restore its market town look’ and what better way to do that than bringing a successful market into the market town,” the survey said.

Residents also said Market Rasen was a fairly clean or tidy town.

“This shows that work carried out to improve the town’s ‘grot spots’ with the use of town rangers and volunteers has been successful, which was implemented by MR BIG,” it continued.

Furthermore, the survey revealed 60% of people said their shopping visits to Market Rasen would be hit if parking charges were implemented. Shoppers would make fewer visits to Rasen and they would be more likely to shop at Tesco.

Overall, the survey added people are “very passionate” about Market Rasen and the Portas/MR BIG/ parking/retailing issue is a “very hot topic.”

It also applauded MR BIG and others for volunteering their toime to help the town. Market Rasen’s town traders (retailers) and community need to work together to keep people visiting, it concluded. Parking charges also need to be resisted.

Sara Scott, the chair of MR BIG, said they survey confirmed there is “a lot of pride and passion to make Market Rasen a good place to be.”

“It’s good to see people recognise the hard work in making it happen. It’s the key legacy from the Portas Pilot,” said Ms Scott.

Scepticism about the impact of Portas, she said, stemmed from the “negative publicity” the Portas scheme has received nationally and maybe a failure to understand what has been done.

“Having the monthly markets is a big advancement. However, you have got to get the markets to be commercially viable,” she said.

This leads to Market Rasen Town Council and West Lindsey District Council working together to ensure markets in the town are well supported.

Ms Scott saw a need for the public to be consulted over the issue of free parking, especially since the town council and others are now raising the issue of existing free parking leading to people using the town as a free ‘park’n’ride’ and going elsewhere.

Limiting free parking, say by using parking discs, could be an option, she said.