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Council’s vision for a thriving town centre: “let’s work together to get the best for everyone”

Published Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Wellingborough has been a market town for hundreds of years, and this is something worth preserving.

The council has been considering how to promote and retain the character of the town for some time, speaking at length with market traders, retailers and the BID to determine the best way to achieve this.

In June 2016 the council adopted a ‘Market Rights Policy’ in which it recognised the importance of markets to the local economy and the character of the area.

In formulating this policy consultation took place with Wellingborough BID, the Chamber of Commerce, Wellingborough Town Centre Partnership, Wellingborough Market Traders and other interested parties. Everyone affected was encouraged to feedback their views and concerns about the draft policy which suggested that markets should take place on the market square; this consultation did not generate any objections or comments.

The aim of the policy is to protect Wellingborough market from commercial events that will draw people away from it. To encourage greater footfall to the market a dedicated events space has been created and a series of events are planned throughout the year to coincide with the relaunch of the market which is due to take place in early summer.

The continental market has been invited to use this space but has to date declined to do so.

The application to hold the continental market on an alternative site within the town was considered by the cross party Market Working Group, who unanimously agreed to support the decision to refuse permission in line with council policy. They are however willing to consider an amendment to the adopted policy which may allow a continental market to be held later in the year, but any proposals for change will have to go through the democratic decision-making process.

Cllr Graham Lawman, Chairman of the Market Working Group said “the council has been working with market traders for a number of years now to look at ways to improve the market and increase footfall; the introduction of a market rights policy is one of the ways of doing this.

It would be perverse to introduce a policy and then ignore it. The continental market is welcome to use the event space on the market. The council has offered, and would welcome, the opportunity to work in partnership with the BID on future events; in fact we are currently about to start discussions with the BID regarding the new Christmas lights.”

Councillor Martin Griffiths, Leader of the Council said “we have asked the BID to provide evidence of the benefits the continental market and other BID events bring to existing market traders and other town centre businesses so that we can co-ordinate our efforts make this a bigger, better event for the whole of the town.”

At the meeting between the BID and the Interim Directors of the council the democratic and decision making processes were explored. The council has a duty to make its decisions and policies open, accountable and fair; options for putting forward a business case to the council for a different approach to events in the town centre were suggested to the BID, so that council members could consider its policies in a public meeting where anyone with an interest can put forward their views.