Devolution idea for markets in smaller towns

Market Place, Long Sutton, on market day.
Market Place, Long Sutton, on market day.
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Markets in Crowland, Holbeach and Long Sutton should be put under parish council or community control, according to a review of town centres in South Holland.

The radical plan has been put forward by Essex-based retail consultants Quarterbridge Project Management in a report reviewing markets and car parks in the district’s four market towns.

Friday markets in Crowland and Long Sutton, as well as Holbeach’s Thursday and Saturday markets, bring in only £21,000 to the South Holland District Council budget.

The report recommends that ownership and control of the markets should be handed over to Crowland, Holbeach and Long Sutton Parish Councils or “community interest groups”.

“Crowland Market is much loved by local people as a great place to buy fruit and vegetables and an important place for reinforcing social links,” the report said.

“Long Sutton Market answers all basic local needs and the regular Friday auction provides another valuable attraction.

“In the case of Holbeach Market, shoppers perceive it as having a positive effect on the town but (they) do not have high expectation for it.

“The main problems envisaged are the market’s location, its consistency and the amount of produce on offer.”

The report’s findings appear to back up a survey carried out amongst traders in the town by the Holbeach Business Forum in 2012 when it was revealed that revitalising the twice-weekly market was the first step towards improving the town.

Speaking to the Guardian about the survey, Holbeach trader David Hudson said: “Like many small rural towns in Lincolnshire, Holbeach is historically known as a market town and this has to be its unique selling point.

“An improvement to the market on Thursdays and Saturdays should restore local confidence, offer more variety on the high street and attract custom from local and neighbouring areas, especially if quality, specialist items are available.”