Cheaper stall rents won’t attract more traders

I WOULD like to respond on behalf of Alnwick Markets with reference to your article published on December 15, entitled Take notice of Mary Queen of Shops.

Your opening paragraph states: ‘A business leader is calling for more to be done to improve markets in Alnwick after a report into the future of high streets was released.’

Mary Portas has made general recommendations to the Government about markets across the country, not with specific reference to Alnwick. She has quite rightly said that street markets can be a vibrant part of town centres and help with regeneration and that it should be easier for people to become market traders.

I think it’s important to state that Alnwick Markets welcomes new traders all the time and it is very easy to join the market here. All you need is the relevant insurance and to follow any statutory requirements relating to the sale of your goods. We also provide stalls, tables and even an electricity supply if it’s needed.

Mr Biagioni is quoted in the article as saying that we should charge less to get more market traders. This simply does not stack up. Our Thursday market is 37 per cent cheaper than our Saturday market but last week only three stallholders wanted to come on Thursday yet we had 23 stalls in the market on Saturday.

Stallholders want footfall not cheap rents and this is proven by the fact that Alnwick is busier on Saturdays. Having said that, through our incentive programme we offer free weeks and discounts for regular traders and those just starting out.

Sadly, Alnwick town centre is very quiet on weekdays once the castle shuts at the end of October and the main tourist season comes to an end.

Perhaps we, as a business community, need to look at this issue and address the lack of footfall in our town. The market operator of Alnwick Markets is Local Living North East, a social enterprise set up specifically to encourage and promote entrepreneurial activity in our region. Local Living is made up of a small group of unpaid directors who volunteer their time to make sure the markets in Alnwick are sustainable. There are no shareholders and no dividends. Operating income from the stallholders is used to run the markets, pay the annual licence fee levied by Northumberland Estates and to invest in promotion, activities and stall equipment.

Local Living and Alnwick Markets are keen to see more activities and events in the Market Place and town centre and we welcome ideas from any members of the community. You can contact us through our website – www.alnwickmarkets.co.uk

Mike Walsh,

Alnwick Markets Manager

RE: Take notice of Mary Queen of Shops.IN the article last week I made a comment regarding a call for the improvement of markets in Alnwick and trade in the centre of the town. I apologise as I inadvertently offended the organisers of Alnwick Markets. I am sure they will rise to the challenges and as members of Alnwick Chamber of Trade we will always be there to support them. We believe we need to have not just a busy market but the whole of the Market Place should be the heart of the town.

Carlo Biagioni

Chairman, Alnwick Chamber of Trade