Answers sought from MR BIG

EDITOR – I would like to enquire as to how I can find out exactly how the government money awarded to the MR BIG group has been spent to date, along with the progress and impact reports, which justify this money been awarded to our town.

I seem to be at a loss to understand - as a tax payer and resident- why I would find photo’s of toadstools and fairy cakes more appealing than real tangible information on how our local high street traders are benefiting from these highly publicised monthly markets.

All very credible “ to put the market back into Market Rasen”, but if I have understood comments made by Mary Portas recently in an article in the Daily Telegraph, far more is needed than a market every month to breath life into our declining high streets.

I understand a new fruit and vegetable shop is about to open and a space has been arranged for “starter” businesses/test trading. All great for filling the empty shops. What is been done to ensure other shops stay occupied and we don;t lose our long standing businesses?

What is been done to attract the shoppers into town, apart from on market days, when they are been enticed by a plethora of market traders, many of whom might well be Lincolnshire based, but not necessarily from the “local” surrounding area.

Every day I see buses leaving the town for Grimsby and Lincoln with many passengers taking advantage of the regular services to shop elsewhere. I have watched to see how many passengers disembark to shop in Market Rasen and the numbers don’t quite match! Perhaps here is a good place for the MR BIG to focus some attention. Our town may have free car parking, but as the last market proved, this was limited and actually became quite difficult.

Our free car parks were full, - to be fair they are always half full. Perhaps we measure the success of the markets by the number of cars parked on busy roads and on blind corners? Perhaps some of the money awarded should be used to pay for traffic Marshalls to help avoid accidents?

Maybe the local taxi companies and council run minibus services could be approached to work together to offer discounts or reward schemes. After all these are local businesses as well and they are the perfect vehicles to bring the local shoppers into town. I would be far more interested to know how the local businesses such as taxi companies, butchers, hairdressers, tearooms etc are getting involved and benefiting.

Another question I hope to get an answer to is where are the results to be found of the survey I so dutifully completed some months ago for the MR BIG? I have looked carefully on their website and cannot see any detailed report of the findings of that survey. I am hoping that this isn’t a case of conducting a survey to satisfy funders, then no further action until an evaluation report is required by the funders.

Pretty pictures and positive anecdotes are lovely and all very positive. That said, come on MR BIG, some of us want the detail, when walking down the high street on a market day, some of our businesses looked quieter than a non market day.

Give us something to prove that the out of town “artisan” market traders are not detracting from the objective of improving the prospects of the established and relied upon businesses that are here every day.

I for one cannot in this current economic climate dine out on £4 sandwich cakes and £2 bags of handmade crisps, nor can I afford to buy organic candles and hand cream every week.

Tell us more about the basics please and think about what you can do to help local established businesses and the local community, many of whom do not have access to social media and are not happy to accept standing on a pavement looking in a shop window to find out how their taxes are been spent.

I am slightly uncomfortable that I see chip shops from Lincoln been publicly invited to come to the market days, yet no public endorsement or promotion of the three established chip shops. This could potentially appear to some as over exuberant PR and marketing, without thought for how this could be perceived.

You need your local residents and community on side, impressing us is a priority. We are bored of the “where’s wally” Market Rasen umbrellas and bags. We all know what a great job you are doing of keeping Mary Portas informed of what a great job you are doing. Prove to us what a great job you are doing.

A frustrated local shopper

By email

EDITOR’S NOTE: I believe there is a lot of information on MR BIG and its plans and accounts available at the library or by contacting the organisation directly through its website.