Northumberland markets strategy approved

The Saturday market in Alnwick Market Place. Picture by Jane Coltman
The Saturday market in Alnwick Market Place. Picture by Jane Coltman

There’s a ‘real risk of markets in Northumberland failing’ if the right plan isn’t in place to support them.

At last Tuesday’s meeting of the county council’s cabinet, the Northumberland Markets Strategy 2018 to 2023 was approved.

The overarching vision is ‘to create a diverse, vibrant market experience that has a positive economic, social and cultural impact’.

It follows a previous five-year strategy, that had some successes but failed with other efforts, for the county’s markets in Alnwick, Amble, Ashington, Bedlington, Berwick, Blyth, Hexham and Morpeth.

A report to councillors explained that the local authority ‘recognises the importance that markets play in society and the contribution they can make to a town and the local economy’.

Coun Jeff Reid, chairman of the communities and place committee, which discussed the strategy two weeks previously, warned that there was a ‘real risk of markets failing’.

His committee had made a number of further comments, which were fed back to Tuesday’s cabinet meeting, including suggestions to consider more robust and weather-resistant pod-like stalls and supporting traders to develop digital skills to help them promote their businesses.

Teenage Markets and the live acoustic music at such events had proven to be quite popular in the north of the county and should be expanded to other areas, councillors added.

The committee also suggested that traders be obliged to remain on site for set times, rather than packing up after the busy period was over.

And while members generally acknowledged that markets attracted visitors into towns, they were concerned that, in some areas, they may have an adverse impact on existing permanent retail units.

Now, that the strategy has been approved, some of the early actions include visiting nearby markets to encourage traders to try Northumberland Markets and updating the county-wide operating rules.

In the longer term, an event programme to provide added attractions on some market days will be developed and an electronic booking and payment system for traders will be introduced.

Ben O'Connell, Local Democracy Reporting Service