May 22 2013 Latest news:
Kathryn Bradley, Reporter
Friday, June 15, 2012
Plans to restrict market days in Aylsham have been put on hold by town councillors over fears it could damage trade and restrict economic growth.
Aylsham Town Councillors voted against making a traffic order, which would have meant the end of one of the two monthly farmers’ markets and made it difficult to host any new markets in the town centre, during their June meeting.
Instead, they agreed to ask North Norfolk County Council to reword the order to allow greater flexibility to hold events in Market Place.
Aylsham currently holds general markets on Mondays and Fridays and farmers’ markets on the first and third Saturdays of the month, which traders say increases the number of customers in their shops.
The order would have meant markets could only be held on Mondays and the first Saturday of the month unless an application was made to close the road.
Coun Elizabeth Jones said she couldn’t support making the order. “I think we are doing a total disservice to the entire town,” she said. “Aylsham has a market place, we don’t have a car park. There has been a report done about improving the economic situation in this town that says markets are good for business.”
Coun Cathy Warnock agreed saying: “Taking away the third Saturday market will have a negative effect on the viability of the town.”
Coun Nick Marriott added: “This would resolve an issue but everybody says we want to grow the markets and bring people to Aylsham and have flexibility to do that. We have got to have demand for a market before we open more Saturdays but we won’t get that demand if there isn’t the availability.”
Several members spoke in favour of making the new traffic order, arguing that the town council appeared indecisive and that the decision could be reversed after a trial period.
Coun Paul McGrath said: “We should make a stand and say this is what we are going to go for.”
Annette Overton agreed saying: “I think we should do it. If any other stall holders want to come they can come on Mondays.”
Deborah Blake, chairman of Aylsham and Business Enterprise Forum, spoke during the council meeting. She argued the town couldn’t afford to stifle growth and urged members to reject the proposed traffic order. Speaking afterwards she said she was pleased with the outcome. “It is definitely closer to what we were hoping for.
“The Mary Portas report and Government advice is that certain types of specialist markets are on the incline and increase the footfall in a town which is good for business. Now we can look at developing additional Saturday markets without the rigmarole of applying for a road closure.”
A traffic order creating pedestrian only zones in Market Place during market days on Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays was put in place when the road was resurfaced in February.
Motorists, who were used to parking between stalls, continued to park in Market Place on Fridays when there were only a few stalls and spaces were available. A number of motorists were given parking tickets by traffic wardens leading retailers to complain their customers were being driven away and couldn’t park near to their shops.
In response, the town council covered the sign prohibiting parking in Market Place on Fridays.
A new traffic order was drawn-up creating pedestrianised zones in Market Place on Mondays and on the first Saturday of the month to formally resolve the problem but was rejected by members last week. The Friday market has been moved off the road and the farmers market on the third Saturday would have been cancelled.
Councillors have now asked for pedestrianised zones in Market Place on every Monday and Saturday in the month, with the option to amend the street signs to allow parking on Saturdays when a market is not being held.
The order amendment will mean the farmers market held on the third Saturday of the month can continue and the option to hold events on the remaining tow Saturdays remains open.