Market review ‘waste of time and money’

A CONTROVERSIAL review of a historic market has been branded a ‘waste of time and money’ by a struggling trader, who issued a stark warning to shoppers

A report into Bury St Edmunds’ market, published last month, said stalls were still thriving and providing a good range of products.

But trader Peter Martin, 44, blasted the �6,000 report ordered by St Edmundsbury Borough Council, saying trade had ‘plummeted’ over the past two years.

“The review was a load of old rubbish,” he said. “Nobody came and asked us what we thought the problem was.

“It was an absolute waste of money.”

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Mr Martin has run his stall on the market for the past 28 years but claims trade dropped after Asda opened in the town 18 months ago.

He now plans to give up his stall at Christmas if not before.

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“I just can’t earn enough money,” he said. “If the general public aren’t going to shop with us, what can you do?

“Bury market is nice and quaint but, unfortunately, you don’t see people spending a lot of money.”

The review into the future of Bury and Haverhill markets was ordered by the borough council after the number of traders fell by almost 6% over the past five years.

The report, created by external consultants, said the market was still delivering a significant trading profit.

But Mr Martin said a change in shopping habits continued to blight trade for many of the independent stall holders.

“It’s not the council’s fault,” he said. “Trade has plummeted over the past two years.

“If people don’t use us, they are going to lose us.”

But John Webber, chairman of the Bury Market Traders’ Association, said consultants had spoken to traders while making up their report.

“It is just an individual trader, it is not reflective of the market as a whole,” he said. “In general, we are seeing a better flow of people.”

A spokesperson for the borough council said the market review did include discussions with market traders, all of whom were invited to take part in the review.

“The purpose of the review was to ensure a thriving future for our popular markets, especially given the challenging economic conditions and the changes in shopping habits.,” she said.

“The findings have been positively received by the market traders’ associations and other stakeholders, and we are looking forward to working closely with them in future”.

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