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In the market for a market
CONSULTATION will take place this month over plans to establish a market in Swindon town centre – after two thriving markets were recently cancelled last year due to a street trading ban covering many key thoroughfares.
InSwindon, the town centre management firm, decided in October to cancel its weekly food market in Havelock Square after the council voted to enforce its existing ban on street trading there.
Then a few weeks later, the company called off its popular annual Christmas Market, due to take place in Canal Walk, because it is also a prohibited street, even though it had been held there in the last two years.
Now Swindon Council’s licensing committee is to launch a month-long consultation on the idea of removing the ban in all or some streets in the town centre, with a condition limiting trading to specific times and dates, or to weekly or themed markets.
The consultation will involve two public events – one at the Central Library and one at the Brunel Centre – and people will be asked for their preferences on the type, location and frequency of a possible market.
Coun Emma Faramarzi (Con, Priory Vale), who is heading the market working group, said they wanted to get feedback from as many people as possible, adding that there was also a session planned to take place in the Civic Offices to gauge the views of organisations representing businesses.
She said: “Any market research is fundamentally flawed if you don’t get as many people as possible. You can skew numbers and you can skew views if you only ask 10 people what their view is.
“But if you open that up and ask 1,000 people, you are going to get a wider picture. And ultimately we want the people in the town centre to tell us what they want to see, because ultimately they’re going to be spending the money, and they’re going to be the ones that make it successful or not.
“There’s no point putting a market at the bottom of town where all the bars are, when the shoppers are going to say ‘What’s the point of that, we aren’t going down there?’”
The market type options on the consultation are a weekly general market, weekly food market, themed market, Christmas market, or general car boot sale.
Among the sites the council will seek preferences on are the old Post Office site, Canal Walk, Havelock Square, outside the Town Hall, Wharf Green, and Fleet Street and Bridge Street.
The dates of the consultation and events are yet to be announced.