MARCH 15 - 28, 2019 No. 4948 70p

INSIDE... Page 3

Food festival returns to Walton Gardens

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Market given another chance Ashbourne Market Place (Photo: Alan Feebery)

Two struggling markets in the Derbyshire Dales have been granted a reprieve after a local community interest group stepped up and offered to take over the reins. The Thursday market at Shrovetide Walk in Ashbourne and the Saturday market in the town’s Market Place are overseen by Derbyshire Dales District Council, and are currently costing £40,000 a year in public money to operate. In more recent times

occupancy and attendance at both markets have dropped to an all-time low, and the events were threatened with closure if they did not rise to at least 70 percent occupancy. Then in December last

year the Community Interest Company AshCom, which is run by residents and business owners in the town, offered to take on both markets and run them as an independent operator. At a meeting last month Der- byshire Dales District Council agreed to provide £10,000 to support AshCom’s takeover bid and to retain the two mar- kets in their current locations.

ISSN 2057–6781 Once the relevant contracts

are signed the district council will no longer be involved in the day to day running of the markets, though there will be regular checks by its officers to ensure the funding given to the group is being spent “appropriately”. This would be in relation

to operating the market, erecting the market stalls and collecting market rents from the traders. AshCom will be given an

initial sum £5,000 followed by another £5,000 once officers have been given reassurance on how money is being spent. AshCom chairman, Jeffrey Phillips, told the meeting last month: “Ashbourne should not be the first town to lose an 800 year-old market.” “It will be an uphill struggle,

but it would contribute to the vibrancy of the Ashbourne area. Overall, we want Ashbourne to be a destination not a gateway.” Lisa Wallace, owner of Ashbourne Bakehouse in the town’s Market Place, said that people needed a reason to travel to Ashbourne to shop instead of staying at home and buying goods online. “There used to be a definite

uplift of trade on market days,” she said. “We would easily be able to double our takings on Saturday market days. “But now I often find myself

apologising to tourists who come to Ashbourne, knowing it is a market town, and then asking ‘Is that it?’ when they see the stalls on the market place.” “The ideology of the market

town is part of the draw. Without a thriving market we have been left diminished.” “It is important for us not just

to have a loyal customer base, but for there to be another reason to travel to us.” Cllr Mike Ratcliffe said: “This

is a chance to protect a market here for a long, long time. Let’s get on with it.” After the handover was unanimously approved, committee chairman Cllr Jo Wild said: “Good luck, AshCom.” AshCom’s plans for the town include encouraging shop owners to showcase their products on stalls, bringing back an artisan market and introducing new farmers’ and antiques markets, The group say they are

also considering using street entertainment, themed markets and fairs, continental markets and big one-off events such as the sheep fair. The aim is to turn Ashbourne’s market place into the commercial centrepiece it deserves to be, and members of the public will be asked what they think of the ideas.

The company’s Ashbourne

markets project lead, Cynthia Rich, told local media: “We are very grateful that the district council’s Community and Environment Committee gave us its unanimous backing to continue with our quest to keep Ashbourne as a market town and to grow it back into a thriving place to visit for our residents, day shoppers and tourists. “We are now working with

the council officers to complete the related agreements so you won’t be seeing any changes over the next number of weeks while the markets remain under the management of district council. “We’re working with our independent retailers to bring their products on to the markets and give them an opportunity to ‘showcase’ their talents, rekindling their enthusiasm for markets in Ashbourne whilst rebuilding the reputation and appeal of the Ashbourne markets among market traders and independent suppliers across the region. “In a nutshell, the plan is

that you’ll be experiencing so much more than any supermarket or online shopping can offer; you’ll get to know your favourite seller and they will get to know exactly what you want.” AshCom’s first move will

be to launch a survey to find out how residents would like to see their market develop under its new custodians, and AshCom members will be out on market days gathering views from shoppers.

Cautious approach to spending continues

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Facelift for historic Halifax market



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