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Task force to be formed to look at future development of markets in Bury St Edmunds, Haverhill, Newmarket, Mildenhall, Clare and Brandon

A dedicated task force is being formed in West Suffolk to assess the future development of the district’s six markets.

West Suffolk Council’s scrutiny committee in November suggested a review of the six markets it runs across the district would be useful, with Thursday night’s remote meeting agreeing a task force should be established.

The authority operates six regular markets in Brandon, Bury St Edmunds, Clare, Haverhill, Mildenhall and Newmarket, although the size and regular stallholders of those markets varies from town to town.

Bury St Edmunds market. Picture: Mark Westley
Bury St Edmunds market. Picture: Mark Westley

Independent councillor Ian Shipp, chairman of the authority’s overview and scrutiny committee, said: “It’s to look at what our markets are doing and how best to sustain them in the future.”

The task group will gather for a series of meetings over a six month period, and it is hoped that the experiences of market traders and customers will inform part of that group’s work.

Julie Baird, director of planning and growth at West Suffolk Council, said: “The scope that was discussed was to look at the strategic roles of markets and also its future development to meet the proper priorities, which is quite timely as we look towards recovery now as well.

“We would actively engage with stakeholders and customers – that is really important we get that feedback. We would then seek to use the insights from that evidence and best practice to draw up a series of recommendations.

“The review is to look across West Suffolk but will look at how they operate in towns from that context.”

Arrangements for a task group had originally been planned for March, but the additional demands of the most recent Covid-19 lockdown meant it was decided to delay it until June.

Emerging from Covid-19 and how the markets bounce back from the difficulties during that time are also likely to be key considerations for the task group’s work.

While it will assess the operations of those individual markets, it aims to assess the markets and their value across the district as a whole.

The group will collate its findings in a remote to be presented back to the scrutiny committee with any recommendations for future direction.

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