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Safeguarding and improving markets in Witney

The go ahead has been given for improvements to markets in Witney in a bid to bring new opportunities for stallholders and shoppers, while safeguarding its market town heritage.

West Oxfordshire District Council’s Cabinet has agreed a series of recommendations following a Review of the markets to ensure their long-term viability and continuing support for the local economy.

The twice weekly centuries-old Charter Market, which is run by the Council, will be rebranded as the ‘Witney Buttercross Market’.

Work will get under way to increase the number of stalls at the Thursday and Saturday market and the Council will look at other ways to make improvements, including the appearance and mix of stalls on offer.

Witney will also start to host specialist markets to bring variation and provide new opportunities for shoppers. This will kick off with a three-day Christmas Market from December 22-24, providing festive foods, mulled wine and craft stalls.

Approval has been given for Witney Farmers’ Market, currently held on a Friday each month, to have the option of running alongside the Charter Market on a Saturday. However, the Farmers’ Market will continue to trade in Market Square on a Friday for the foreseeable future.

Cllr David Harvey, Cabinet Member for Environment who has responsibility for licensing markets and street scene, said: “We’ve had the re-paving of the Market Square already this year and some new traders, including an outdoor café and bakery, have already joined the Charter Market. This Review builds on the success of the traditional market and is our way of showing that we are committed to supporting local markets.

“Markets are the lifeblood of local towns, not only Witney but across West Oxfordshire, and play a vital role in the local economy and success of town centres. Witney has a long market heritage and we want this to continue into the future. The specialist markets will bring something completely new and we’re sure these will be a success, helping to attract new market customers.”

The recommendations set out in the Witney Market Review are based on national research, as well as local consultation with members of the public, market traders and town centre retailers. In addition, the Review takes into consideration how successful traditional markets operate elsewhere.

National research and guidance, including the Mary Portas Review into improving high streets, highlights the importance of promoting markets and recognises their significant impact on town centres and the economy. It is estimated that West Oxfordshire’s markets turnover in the region of £1.2m a year.

In addition to the improvements set out in the Review, other recommendations include:

· Launching a ‘First Pitch’ market trader start-up scheme run by National Market Traders Federation.
· Supporting the Love Your Local Market campaign, co-ordinated by The Markets Alliance in response to the Portas Review.
· Supporting the Real Deal national charter scheme.
· Achieving national Charter Status run by the National Market Traders Federation.

The findings of the Review will help the Council to provide support to other markets in the District.

Posted : 19/09/2013 13:44:24

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