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Ambitions outlined for markets in Bury St Edmunds, Brandon, Clare, Haverhill, Mildenhall and Newmarket by task group

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Increasing customer numbers, more special events and plans to become financially self-sufficient are ambitions voiced by a task group on West Suffolk’s markets.

West Suffolk Council formed a task group last summer to assess future developments of the district’s six markets, as well as any opportunities and improvements that can be made.

The authority operates regular markets in Brandon, Bury St Edmunds, Clare, Haverhill, Mildenhall and Newmarket, as well as special events such as those at Christmas.

Market stalls in Bury St Edmunds. Picture: West Suffolk Council
Market stalls in Bury St Edmunds. Picture: West Suffolk Council

The task group has published its recommendations ahead of next week’s scrutiny committee meeting.

Among its ambitions are to attract new customers by bolstering its promotion of the markets; developing a plan that will include measures to encourage new traders; improve footfall with more special event markets; review licensing and charging arrangements for stalls; and consider alternative funding arrangements to make the markets financially self-sustaining in the next three years.

Cllr John Burns, Independent councillor for Haverhill East who chaired the market review working group, said: “West Suffolk Council has well liked and evolving markets across the district, each of them face different challenges and opportunities in their individual towns.

“From our work it is clear markets play an important role in the local economy and are a focal point for our communities influencing the health and wellbeing of residents and the people that use them.

“Overview and scrutiny has looked at how we can build on the successes we have had and, importantly, further strengthen them. This has been a cross-party and collaborative effort, involving the portfolio holder, that has looked at a range of evidence including engagement with traders, businesses, the BID and members of the public who use and crucially don’t use our markets.

“In addition we looked at markets outside our area as well as talking to local and national experts. We received feedback from representatives of the National Market Traders Federation, which commended the work being done across West Suffolk on markets, such as our initiatives for business start-up and support for existing businesses.

“We have put forward recommendations using all this information for cabinet to look at to support them and the council in the overall aim of supporting the local and national economic recovery.“

Scrutiny committee will assess the group’s work at its meeting on Thursday evening next week, before presenting its findings and recommendations to the authority’s Conservative cabinet next month.