Fears over future of town's market

A TOWN clerk is calling for action to be taken by residents to help ensure the future of its ailing market before it is too late.

Mark Lord

A TOWN clerk is calling for action to be taken by residents to help ensure the future of its ailing market before it is too late.

The EADT reported last November that Saxmundham Town Council was concerned its weekly market had seen a major decline in numbers of both traders and customers.

And after yesterday's showing - when only five stallholders turned up - there are now fresh fears for its future.

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Maddie Gallop, Saxmundham town clerk, said: “I have heard traders saying that things are getting so slow they are asking whether it's worth them turning up each week.

“In the current economic climate I cannot understand why more people are not supporting their market. We have to ask whether people want a market or not. We are a market town and without it we would not be the town we are.

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“The few market stalls there are offer delicious produce, which is often local and good value. People need to support the market - both customers and traders - before it is too late and it closes for good.”

Trader David Large said: “We need more stalls and more people need to come here and support us - something they are just not doing at the moment.”

The lack of support was echoed by fellow stallholder Kevin Hilliard.

“Lots of the people from Saxmundham's large housing estates are going elsewhere,” he said. “They are not coming to the market - they are not supporting their town.”

However, Gerald Randle, who also has a stall at the market, said he thought the problem was down to the traders as well as the customers.

He said: “Yes there are fewer customers, but it is partly because so many stallholders give it a go for a short time - maybe a few weeks - before deciding it is not working for them.

“They need to realise it's a long term commitment, that you need to stick at it for about a year so that you can build up your customers and they can get to know you.”

The market is run by Suffolk Coastal District Council and its agent Barry Munson told the EADT that markets are in decline everywhere because more and more people go to out of town supermarkets.

He said: “I do not think it is a situation that is going to get any better. In Saxmundham part of the problem is that the core of elderly people are no longer with us and there is no through trade since the town was bypassed.

“What a market needs is dedicated market traders - people who are prepared to turn out in all weathers.” Anyone interested in trading on the market can call Mr Munson on 01986 873655.

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