Where have all the traders gone?

Market Day? Where are the traders
Market Day? Where are the traders

Council in the firing line over empty market

This was the sad scene in Market Rasen on at least three ‘market’ days in the past two weeks.

With just one trader on annual leave, there was not a single stall at the town’s main Friday market on either January 18 or 25, and the Saturday, January 26 market was non-existent too.

Market Rasen Town Council has since come under fire for failing to attract stalls, and claims it had ‘driven away’ long-term trader North’s fruit and veg.

Resident Richard Brooks said: “It was very disappointing and sad to see on a main market day, Friday, there wasn’t a single market stall in Market Square.

“The market was dead.

“The writing has been on the wall though. The town council has been making efforts to attract new traders, but apparently to no avail.

“And it’s a problem, in my opinion, of the town council’s own making.

“They drove the Norths away and now our market town is struggling badly to provide a market.

“Whatever happens in the future, whether there will be a market or not, I hope the cobbled Market Square will remain as such.”

North’s fruit and veg won a legal battle to stay on the market, but announced last May it was leaving the town due to a ‘soul destroying’ lack of footfall.

Stallholders Jennie North and Bryan Spittlehouse took legal action against the town council after being served with an eviction notice for allegedly ‘moving council property’, opening the market without ‘correct authorisation’ and ‘unacceptable behaviour’.

Discussing the lack of market stalls, resident Moira Westley said: “The town council need to get a grip and sort it out - incentivise people in to the town.”

Keen plant seller Ben Neave told the Mail he had applied for a market stall but says he was refused a licence because there is already an existing plant stall - even though he says he sells ‘completely different plants’.

Another resident, Fee Berry, said: “I’ve never really understood why Market Rasen has three market days when it struggles to put one market together.

“The old Mr Big markets on the first Saturday of the month were well run, but it takes time and effort to attract stallholders and keep them coming.

“Maybe a lull in the winter is understandable, but with the fruit and veg stall gone, there is rarely enough to attract people to come and have a look.”

Carol Oxley said it was ‘such a shame’ and Rosey Norton said the insurance and rent costs would be ‘more than any profit’ for a trader.

Michele Fields said: “I think a lot of market traders have their holidays at this time of the year when it’s quiet.”

But resident Sadiie Stothard thinks speciality markets could help to boost trade.

She said: “Speciality markets... farmers’ market once a month etc will bring in trade.. it’s not a difficult task.”

And Alex Wright said: “One market per week. Stop all parking in the market place 24/7. Make it more of a focal point of the town.”

The Rasen Mail has asked Rasen Mayor John Matthews to comment on the lack of stalls - and whether there was any possibility of an additional plant stall at the market.

At the time of going to press, Coun Matthews had not responded.

Town clerk Faye Lambkin-Smith told the Mail: “Our market does run on a Tuesday, Friday and Saturday.

“On a Friday, we only have the one regular market trader and this trader is currently on leave.

“We do have other casual traders registered, but they do not come on a Friday.”