Sudbury: Farmers market ‘revitalised’
A BUSINESSWOMAN who revived the fortunes of a struggling council-run farmers’ market in just six months has been given the job on a permanent basis.
Sudbury Town Council had been unable to make their monthly farmers’ market, held in St Peter’s Church, pay. So in May, they agreed to let Justine Paul – who already ran similar ventures in Lavenham and Assington – take on the management on a trial basis to see if she could inject a fresh dose of energy into the project.
At a recent leisure and environment meeting in the town, councillors decided that the entrepreneur had done such a “fantastic” job – increasing profits on some stalls by up to 60% – that she should be allowed to take on the project full time from December.
Town mayor Jack Owen said: “This young lady has done a marvellous job in taking what was a failing venture off our hands in tough economic times and I think we should welcome her input with open arms.”
The move means that Mrs Paul, 43, will be responsible for booking and financing all future markets. However, if the venture fails in the long term, the council will have first refusal to take the market back under its control.
Committee member Peter Gray said: “This is one of those cases where a trial has turned into a success story. Under her (Mrs Paul’s) management, the market has gone from a struggling enterprise to one where there is a waiting list for stalls and takings have increased for most regular stall-holders.”
Mrs Paul, who lives in Lavenham, said she was thrilled that the council had agreed to hand over the reigns of the project.
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“The council has been very helpful and supportive during the past six months and I think they are chuffed to see the markets’ success, which is something really positive for the town centre,” she said. “It is amazing how in such a hard economic climate, we have been able to increase footfall through the markets and boost trade for the stall-holders, all of whom make or grow their own products and come from within a 30-mile radius of Sudbury. We have even been able to increase the opening hours to enable people to drop in and buy something for their lunch. I think it proves that people really care about what they eat and where their food comes from, and the markets offer something that can’t be bought from a supermaket.”
The next market is this Friday at St Peter’s Church from 9.30am to 2pm. Anyone interested in booking a pitch next year can call Justine on 07704 627973.