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'We are enthusiastic about growing the market in Downham Market' council meeting told

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Councillors in Downham have reinforced their wishes to expand the town’s market, following concerns from traders that it was being “run down”.

At Downham Market Town Council’s full meeting, held on Tuesday, members shared their hopes to see the town’s historic market – which reopened earlier this month – grow.

The meeting, which was held virtually, also received an update on the market, from chairwoman of the authority’s market strategy group, Jo Woodmin.

Downham Market's market reopens on Friday, June 5, 2020. Picture: Phoenix Events (36238340)
Downham Market's market reopens on Friday, June 5, 2020. Picture: Phoenix Events (36238340)

She told the meeting that five traders will be on the market place – the town hall car park – today, as compared to the two traders which attended for the first week back.

And, from today, it will be open for a longer amount of time, from 8am to 2pm, while, as of next week, it will also be open on Saturdays again.

Ms Woodmin said, while only five stalls can be accommodated on the market space with the current social distancing guidelines and due to their insurance policy, the council now has a waiting list of traders who would like to attend in the future.

Mayor Becky Hayes added: “The market group is meeting regularly, as the advice from Government is changing all the time, and we are hoping to be proactive with that.”

Councillor Ben Molyneux-Hetherington thanked the market committee for their work and suggested the council reinforced its wishes to keep the market going.

He added: “One of the big things that’s been coming up again and again is this concern we are looking to close the market.”

Mr Molyneux-Hetherington asked his fellow councillors if there was “value in reaffirming their wish” to expand the market.

“I think it would be a good idea as a town council to say we are bringing the market back, we want to keep it and we want to do even more,” he added.

Ms Woodmin said: “Absolutely, and of course it’s sad that we even have to reaffirm this. We are all enthusiastic and want to make good links with traders.

“We did have plans before Covid, but a lot of things are on hold.

“We are enthusiastic about growing the market and making it an amazing draw for the town.”

Councillors Alan Pickering and Cissy Lightfoot, who said they had been accused of wanting to close the market, said they wanted to see it as a “vibrant” market.

Ms Lightfoot said: “I share Jo’s passion for keeping the market alive and in fact improving it.”

A post on the Downham Market Facebook page said the council wants residents to “feel listened to”, and they “encourage constructive feedback”.

Anyone with questions or suggestions can contact the town council on info@downhammarkettc.co.uk or 01366 387770.

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