YOUR LETTERS: Complex reasons behind market decline

Peter Bird and Paul Foyster
Peter Bird and Paul Foyster
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At the risk of being accused of jumping on the band waggon, I would like to comment on the letters and columns published by my political associate Paul Foyster and Roger Gambba-Jones.

As a councillor on Crowland Parish Council, I too have had to deal with the issue of a failing street market.

Three years ago, the once thriving street market in Crowland was reduced to one fruit and veg stall and, following that owner’s death, no stalls at all.

Consequently, I sought a meeting to discuss the matter with Roger, who, with his team, did his best with a limited budget to promote the venture. Six months later, it had blossomed.

But look again now and it’s dwindling, fewer stallholders are attending and our town retail is not so good either.

No doubt many will blame the council, a seemingly anonymous organisation who can’t be trusted to do much for the electorate, but I believe the decline is due to several sometimes complex reasons, some of which I will explain below.

Firstly, I should point out that I recently retired from owning a retail business, and can identify the three main reasons why small retailers fail.

The first is online shopping. In the case of my business, at the time of its sale, more than 55 per cent of sales were on my website, with fewer customers coming through the door.

The second was the disappearance of pedestrians from the market town in which I traded.

Older pensioners were able to travel free on a pensioners’ bus pass to the nearest big city, where they could spend all of their money, while younger adults would whizz past the town on their way to work.

The final reason was the negative effort by retailers to form a retailers’ association, which might work to counter the problems they faced.

It isn’t the job of councils to promote businesses – it is those who hope to profit from them, and councils will help those who try.

I hope the new market location in Holbeach will have some success, but in Crowland I hold my breath and wait for a retailers’ association to form.

We, the council, will help you, as my associate in Holbeach might, but the push must come from you.