SERVING THE NATION’S TRADERS SINCE 1922 OCTOBER 13 - 26, 2017 No. 4911 70p New operator for North East market

Traders in a County Durham town are looking forward to what they hope will be a new era for their market following the signing of a 100 year lease that will see private specialists taking over control. Darlington Borough Council

recently confirmed that a deal had been struck with retail development company Market Asset Management (MAM), who will refurbish the town’s Victorian indoor and outdoor markets and operate them on an ongoing basis. Traders and council officials

agreed last year to invite expressions of interest from private sector companies to take over the running of the popular Covered Market, as well as the twice-weekly outdoor markets. Darlington Borough

Council’s cabinet member for leisure and local environment, Cllr Nick Wallis, told local media at the time that discussions with traders had been “very positive. He added: “Agreement on

the process for selection is an important first step in our search for a private sector partner with whom we can deliver a refreshed, exciting and sustainable market – both indoor and outdoor – which traders and shoppers can continue to be proud of.” To help ensure the deal

was sealed, it has emerged that a £1.8m loan was agreed between the partners. A Darlington Borough Council spokesman told local media: “Cabinet agreed to start a procurement process and selected Market Asset Management (MAM) as its partner.

“Dur ing commercia l negotiations it was agreed the council would provide a loan of £1.8m at commercial rates to assist in funding improvements. “The loan was agreed by cabinet in June. The loan is funded from within the council’s overall Treasury Management Strategy and its repayment by MAM will produce an overall surplus for the Council of £278,000.”

Opening hours

Fol lowing the recent agreement, MAM has revealed its ambitions to extend the opening hours of the markets into evenings and weekends, and there are also plans to install a glass frontage along the West Row side of the indoor market. There will be improved lighting and heating within the building, as well as the provision of public toilets, a food court and an events space for the use of the community. Although Darlington Borough Council will continue to own the market buildings, MAM will be responsible for the staffing and maintenance of the markets. Reacting to the news,

covered market stallholder Robin Blair told local media: “It’s good news for us – not just for us, but for Darlington as well.

“Unfortunately, the market

has stood still for quite a good number of years and we need to move forward. “Now we have things like

online shopping, but there’s still a need for us and we have to move with the times. “There’ll be changes for us,

but I hope these changes will be for the better – it’s a lifeline for the markets.” MAM has promised that the company will work closely with existing stallholders on plans for the redesign of the Grade II-listed market hall, with the work due to be undertaken in phases to help keep disruption to a minimum. Jonathan Owen, a director

of MAM, told local media: “We look forward to working with the stallholders and traders to ensure the markets sell Darlington town centre as a vibrant, exciting place to visit. “The partnership is structured to create a key attraction which differentiates the town from competing attractions and promotes it as a retail and leisure destination with a difference. “The improvements will

provide better facilities, promotion and support to help them grow. “We are acutely aware of

the challenges which small businesses face and will be offering practical experience from elsewhere to support them.” The need for a private investor to secure the long- term future of both markets came about after Darlington Borough Council announced a multi-million pound programme of cuts in 2016. MAM were expected to

take over management of the markets this summer after the council confirmed its intentions to strike a deal with the Essex-based firm in February. Speaking to local media Cllr Nick Wallis said: “Darlington

The iconic clock tower which overlooks Darlington’s markets (Photo: iknow-uk)

is a market town and we believe this change will help promote Darlington town centre. “The plans by MAM show a building that will be brought to life. “The wider use of the

market hall will attract more visitors and provide more customers for the stallholders in the market who will remain the backbone of the covered market.”

Northampton Market revamp

Works to refresh the look and feel of Northampton Market began last month, and will include widening the east aisle of the market and replacing the

ISSN 2057–6781

current stall coverings. The changes are taking

place following consultations with traders and a review by the National Association of British Market Authorities, which supported ideas to open up the centre of the market and make it a more attractive environment for shoppers and prospective traders. The work is being carried

out on non-market days, Sundays and Mondays, to cause as little disruption as possible, and is due to be completed this month. Deputy council leader

Cllr Phil Larratt told local media: “We’re really proud of our town’s market, which is why we are investing in improvements to make it an attractive environment to trade and shop in.

“We consulted with traders

before the works began to enable them to input their ideas, and to ensure that anyone being relocated as part of the works is happy with the position of their stall within the new market design. “We look forward to unveiling a brighter and more spacious market square in weeks to come.”

Opening Times: The Market Hall

Monday to Saturday, 8am to 5pm. Stall opening times vary. Wilko

Monday to Saturday, 8am to 6pm. Sunday, 10.30am to 4.30pm. T.K. Maxx

Monday to Saturday, 9am to 6pm. Sunday, 11am to 5pm. (Times subject to change).

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Enjoy a wonderful shopping experience in its beautiful Victorian Covered Market, Arcade Shops and T.K. Maxx & Wilko Stores.


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