Market: A glorified car boot sale?

PUBLISHED: 08:44 18 June 2008 | UPDATED: 21:56 15 June 2010

HONITON'S ancient street market has evolved into a glorified car boot sale and is a disgrace to the town. That is what fed up shop owners told civic leaders during a public meeting last week.

HONITON'S ancient street market has evolved into a glorified car boot sale and is a disgrace to the town. That is what fed up shop owners told civic leaders during a public meeting last week.They want responsibility for the market transferred from East Devon District Council to Honiton Town Council, and say tatty stalls should be turned away.The meeting, jointly organised by Honiton Town Council and Honiton and District Chamber of Commerce and Industry, attracted a full house in the council chamber last Wednesday.Photographs were circulated during the event, showing 'stalls' with no tables. Some market traders were selling goods from boxes placed in the road, it was revealed.During a quick-fire brainstorming session, traders complained that the street market stops at Honiton Post Office and that it does little to benefit the town centre as a whole.It was claimed some shoppers avoid Honiton on markets days - because "the market is rubbish and it's hard to park".Shop owners said the market is driving custom away.Civic leaders were told it wasn't up to scratch, considering Honiton is a long-established market town.Uniform stalls, with matching canopies were suggested and former mayor Councillor Vernon Whitlock said the idea was already under consideration.Traders were also disappointed to note that not one stallholder attended the meeting. They referred to last year's Market Charter celebrations, saying just two stallholders embraced the spirit of the occasion and dressed up."It's another example of the market not bringing anything to the party," they said.Councillor Jill McNally said: "If you put a lump of concrete in your living room, you notice it the next day. As time goes on, however, you notice it less and less. I don't visit the market as often as I used to and, having looked at the photographs, I have just realised why."The meeting heard that dwindling custom had prompted popular stalls to trade in Bridport, not Honiton, on Saturdays.Councillor Whitlock said the issue was a two-way thing - attract shoppers, attract the best stalls.Traders also asked that the monthly farmers' market be incorporated into a Tuesday or Saturday market.TERRY Farebrother, who supervises the street market and co-ordinates the farmers' market, was not at the meeting to answer criticisms.BETTER signage on the A30, the reinstatement of Honiton's town centre watercourse and trees in the High Street were among the suggestions put to civic leaders by traders keen to see improved business.At a time when the credit crunch looks set to develop into a more serious crisis, traders want to do everything they can to ensure Honiton is a vibrant shopping centre.They want street cleanliness improved and more effort made to welcome new enterprises.Communication is 'key', traders said. They want the chamber of commerce and a representative from the town council to personally visit and welcome new businesses as soon as they start trading.Honiton Town Council welcomed the opportunity to talk with local traders. Afterwards, this statement was issued: "The input from the traders will be used to inform the council in its debates on a number of issues, which are already under active consideration, and the council is reassured that it is prioritising matters that are of concern to the local community. We look forward to working closely with the chamber of commerce and the traders...

If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Midweek Herald. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Latest from the Midweek Herald