Town is losing its

ONE of north Suffolk's important small market towns is in danger of losing its "buzz factor", an established trader has warned. Alexander Carr, of the Market Place Wine Shop in Halesworth, said businesses in the town were coming under threat from "bigger and bigger" supermarkets and people needed to show greater support for local traders.

By David Lennard

ONE of north Suffolk's important small market towns is in danger of losing its "buzz factor", an established trader has warned.

Alexander Carr, of the Market Place Wine Shop in Halesworth, said businesses in the town were coming under threat from "bigger and bigger" supermarkets and people needed to show greater support for local traders.

He added it was essential the town's weekly market was "restored to its former glory" to bring "life and colour" back to Halesworth each Wednesday.

Mr Carr, who has seen many changes in the fortunes of the town during the years he has operated his off-licence business, said: "The number of 'sole trader' species throughout this glorious island is fast diminishing.

"With the ever bigger and bigger supermarkets battling among themselves for supremacy, internet shopping, and a whole host of other ways of acquiring one's needs, the problem is gathering pace at an alarming rate.

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"To date, Halesworth is a small market town that has survived well in this world of competitive commercialism because of its decent variety of well-run small shops and businesses offering almost every need and, more importantly, the loyalty of the customers who support these small shops and businesses.

"It is vital for the survival and continued prosperity of Halesworth as a small market town that the loyalty and support from customers is upheld and, indeed, increased."

The trader also believes that there is no room for complacency and that businesses in the town have to provide the type of service required by customers.

"To this end it is hoped that those who are proud of Halesworth and wish it to prosper and to see the 'buzz factor' again, as in the days of old, will, with the future in mind, return in their numbers and shop locally more often and in greater volume.

"It is also essential that the weekly market is restored to its former glory to bring the life and colour back to the town each Wednesday," said Mr Carr.

Yesterday there were only five stalls on the market when in the past there have been many more.

A number of stallholders have stopped attending the market at Halesworth as there has been a long-running dispute with Waveney District Council about proposed rent increases of up to 300%.

Legal teams representing the district council and Halesworth Town Council are currently sorting out details of ways the control of the market could be transferred to the town council.

Robert Beevor, a stallholder at Halesworth market, said he had been disappointed to see so many fellow traders deciding to go elsewhere.

"It is such a shame because the weekly market adds something to the town and it helps bring in people from nearby villages.

"There used to be such a wide variety of stalls at Halesworth market and I hope those days return soon."

Paddy Flegg, a member of Halesworth Town Council who also represents the town on the district council, said: "I am determined to do everything I can to keep Halesworth as buoyant as possible.

"I believe the weekly market is so vital because it is supported by people from Halesworth and the nearby villages."

Agnes Smith and her sister Edna travel to Halesworth every Wednesday from their homes in Lowestoft but are thinking of looking elsewhere.

"There have only been a few stalls on the market for a number of weeks now and we might visit other towns like Beccles or Diss instead of Halesworth," said Edna.

n Do you believe that Halesworth town centre and its weekly market are in danger of losing their "buzz factor"?

Let us know your views by writing to: Letters to the Editor, East Anglian Daily Times, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN.

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