Council-run markets to start selling more goods including plants and cakes
- Credit: MARIAM GHAEMI
More stalls will be joining food traders on markets in west Suffolk from next week.
The council-run markets in Bury, Brandon, Mildenhall, Haverhill and Newmarket have already reopened to sell food and from Tuesday there will also be the addition of plants and flowers, coffee and cakes, cleaning products, whole foods and pet foods.
West Suffolk Council is dubbing this ‘phase two’ and says it comes following government guidance and positive reviews of the ‘phase one’ market sessions held this week.
MORE: Council-run food markets to reopen in Bury St Edmunds, Newmarket, Brandon, Haverhill and MildenhallEvery market has a new layout allowing ample space supported by signage for two-metre social distancing and the number and position of stalls will fit into the ongoing work around how businesses and the streets will operate to help reduce the spread of Covid-19.
Traders will be providing contactless payment where possible, will use hand sanitiser and work with customers to ensure safe queuing. Customers are asked to wash their hands as often as they can, and to keep a safe distance.
John Griffiths, leader of West Suffolk Council, said: “I am very pleased to learn that our first food-only markets operated well within the agreed strict measures to ensure the safety of both the public and stallholders.
“This next phase could not be happening without shoppers and traders adhering to the assurances in place and I would again thank all concerned and of course the traders for their help on this.
“I was also pleased to announce this week that government has responded to our lobbying for support for our regular traders, who are now eligible for one grant calculated on the number of markets that they trade from at a rate of £2,500 per location with a maximum grant of £10,000. We are working hard to get this support to them as quickly as possible
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“The markets will of course continue to be kept under close review but this next step in their reinstatement is also important in the recovery of our town centres, and anticipates shops beginning to trade again in June. “We would ask shoppers to continue to assist us by following government distancing and other guidance in protecting lives and livelihoods.”
Darren Old, chairman of the Bury St Edmunds branch of the National Market Traders’ Federation (NMTF), said: “It’s with a little bit of caution and optimism that I look forward to going back to the market, as we are going back before the non-essential shops reopen. The aim is to make it all as safe as possible, for both the public and traders.
“I believe it will take some time before customer numbers return to pre-coronavirus levels.”
Phase three, the reopening of the markets to more permanent traders, will be decided once phase two has been reviewed and in light of government guidance on non-essential retail.
The markets were originally suspended due to a lack of staffing and a need to prioritise other essential Covid-19 responses. Following careful planning and a review of every session the markets re-opened with food-only stalls, on Tuesday, 26 May.
The markets will be held at Bury St Edmunds on Wedneday and Saturday, at Newmarket on Tuesday and Saturday, at Brandon from June 15 on Thursday and Saturday, at Mildenhall on Friday and at Haverhill on Friday and Saturday.
West Suffolk Council continues to pay business rates on its markets which last year amounted to £65,500, as well as business improvement district levies on this in Bury and Newmarket.
The return of farmers markets, which are run by a private company, is being assessed in light of the lessons learned from safely reinstating the council run markets, and a future announcement will be made.