Does town's Friday market have a future?
- Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020
Open-air markets have been a fixture of towns such as Aylsham for centuries. But does its Friday market need to be reconsidered? STUART ANDERSON reports.
The Friday market in Aylsham's town centre should be encouraged to grow or face closure, according to a shop owner in the town.
Charlie Hodson, who runs Hodson and Co Cheese Room and Deli in Red Lion Street, said he was one of several shop owners who think the town's Friday market should be "looked at" because of the amount of valuable parking space it takes up.
Mr Hodson said: "People need to understand we've got a lot of older folk in the town, and a lot of them can't park anywhere because sometimes we've got four market stalls taking up 22 parking spaces.
"This isn't about being vindictive against market holders - there's a cheese man there who brings people into the town - but it also seems we're being dictated to by the market traders.
"We don't need both a Friday and a Monday market - what's the point of having it there two days a week selling the same things?
"I think people have to embrace change, and the market needs to change."
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Aylsham's National Trust-owned Market Place hosts a market each Monday and Friday - with the Monday market being the bigger of the two - and it also has a farmers' market on the first Saturday of each month.
Mr Hodson said the town council should do more to promote its markets, and consider appointing a market manger to take responsibility for it.
"What I'd love to see is a market we can be proud of," he said.
Johnny Payne, from Coxford's butchers in the Market Place, said he agreed that the Friday market should be reformed to make more space for parking.
He said: "You'd have more footfall with cars coming in and out than what that market would draw."
Billy Hartland, 79, runs a haberdashery stall at the Friday market and is a former chairman of a north Norfolk market traders' association.
Mr Hartland said he had trading in the Market Place on-and-off for 40 years, and agreed that the layout of the market could be improved.
He said: "All we're trying to do at the end of the day is earn a living and provide a service. But if I go there's nowhere any of my girls can buy a roll of elastic, a packet of pins, there's nowhere.
“Some of the rules that have been made are absolutely ridiculous. For example if one stall holder goes home early, according to the rules, no-one can park here again until 6pm."
Mr Hartland said there should be more discussion, rather than confrontation, over the future of the market. He said: "A bit of consultation would go down really well."
Trevor Bennett, Aylsham Parish Council chairman, said his personal view was that problems with on-street parking were sometimes exaggerated, and car parks, including Buttlands Car Park on Mill Road, had the capacity to cater for anyone wanting to visit the town centre.
"Buttlands is very rarely full, and it's 40 yards form the Market Square," he said.
"Some shopkeepers say they want to be able to go into the Market Place and park, and others want to get rid of all parking there."
Sue Lake, Aylsham's town clerk, said the site was "first and foremost" a market place, rather than a car park.
She said that although motorists parked in the Market Place on market days, there was actually a Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) in place issued by the county council years ago that forbade this. She said having the TRO overturned could be expensive.
"Members of the public who park there [on market days] do risk getting a ticket," she said.
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