Changing times for our market towns

Market day in Spalding's Market Place.  Photo by Tim Wilson.
Market day in Spalding's Market Place. Photo by Tim Wilson.
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The future of Spalding as a market town could be reshaped after talks about a report aimed at turning round a projected £44,000 deficit.

Business and civic leaders have been taking in the findings of an 89-page report on South Holland’s street markets and car parks produced by retail consultants Quarterbridge Project Management of Essex.

The report’s authors recommend that Spalding needs a £20,000 investment in new stalls, a signed “parking route”, bus stops to be moved closer to Market Place and a range of events and variety of shops to bring people into town.

Commenting on the report, Spalding town centre manager Dennis Hannant said: “We seem to be a town with two shopping centres –Holland Market and the town centre.

“On Sundays especially, Holland Market car park is packed while a lot of shops in the town centre aren’t open.

“But we’re in a 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week culture where lots of people work six days a week and all they have off is a Sunday.

“Families view going round the shops as entertainment so we have to give the customers what they want.”

The Quarterbridge report included figures from South Holland Market Service which showed that trading deficits had gone up from £26,229 in 2011/12 and £28,860 in 2012/13 to a forecasted £44,084 in 2013/14. Matt Clark, chairman of the Spalding Night-Time Economy Forum, said: “I’ve read with interest the report from Quarterbridge and I personally feel they have captured effectively the requirement of the town centre’s development.

“In fact, some of the points in the report are ones I have personally made over the last 10 years in order to make the town more attractive and accessible to shoppers, as well as providing additional quality public space.”

The report’s findings are likely to be put to groups such as the Spalding Town Retailers Association before any action is taken.

A spokesman for South Holland District Council said: “The report has been delivered to the council and will be considered by the cabinet in due course.”