A TRADITIONAL street market could be re-established in the town centre as part of a bid to support retailers and regenerate the area.

Swindon Council’s licensing committee will consider proposals on Wednesday to set up a working group and consult with fixed retailers to establish how a market could work there.

In the 1970s and 1980s, Swindon used to have a large street market in the former surface car park, situated where Fleet Square is now, but it declined in the 1990s.

The idea of bringing back a street market came from Coun Vera Tomlinson, chairman of the licensing committee, who used to own several shops elsewhere in the country.

Coun Tomlinson said: “Really I think a good market in Swindon could bring some life back to the town centre.

“And if it’s held on good days, it could bring business to some of the permanent businesses.

“If people are coming in for the market, they’re bound to go into other shops as well as, so it would help to reinvigorate the town centre.”

She said the working group would consider things like the style of the market, the day on which it would be held and its location. In the report to be discussed at the committee, Lionel Starling, head of licensing, said Canal Walk is the widest avenue and on paper is the most obvious candidate for a traditional market.

Coun Tomlinson said: “An awful lot of thought has got to go into this. I thought the licensing committee could debate this, then have this working group go out to other towns where they have a successful market.

“They could discuss with them and their councils about how they brought theirs about, and we will take on board all the good points and make sure ours is a better market.”

Simon Jackson, chief executive of town centre management firm InSwindon, which has helped to arrange festive markets and farmers’ markets in the town centre in the past, said he would like the steering group to be set up.

“In line with recommendations recently given to Government, markets are definitely a way in which we can enhance any sort of place such as the town centre and I would welcome and support the council’s assistance and action in making sure Swindon has a long-term quality offer,” he said.

Justin Tomlinson, Swindon North MP, who is also vice-chairman of the all-party Parliamentary group for town centres, wants to see a traditional market return to Swindon.

He said: “I would be supportive as this would add real character and diversity to our town centre, which will prove an additional hook for shoppers.”

Kardien Gerbrands, of Fresh-n-Local, which runs the Sunday farmers’ market outside Swindon Designer Outlet, said the market had boosted trade for the shopping centre.

But he warned that a town centre centre market in Swindon would have to have a niche and offer quality to be successful.