Town Council to run market

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Bishop’s Stortford Town Council is delighted to confirm that it has been successful in its bid to take over the running of Bishop’s Stortford market.

The Town Council had become concerned in recent years that the Market, which runs on Thursdays and Saturdays, needed a more pro-active approach to revitalise it and has been lobbying the District Council, who currently run it, for several years.  East Herts Council declined to transfer the day to day operation to BSTC on a voluntary basis so the Town Council decided to deploy a new power, the ‘community right to challenge’, which was introduced in the 2011 localism act, to force the District Council to put the operation out to tender.  The formal challenge was made as long ago as mid-2013; the tender document was finally issued in by East Herts District Council in August 2014 and the Town Council was notified that it had been selected in December 2014.  The date at which the transfer will take place is still to be agreed, but is likely to be before 1st April.  The contract duration is four years.  Since the sole objective for bidding was to improve the quality of the market, the Town Council would have been content had another organisation submitted a superior bid, but is delighted that its bid was judged the best.

Under the new contract the Council will introduce a regular events programme and additional advertising to raise the profile of the market and make it more attractive to shoppers.  It will also start a monthly producers/farmers market to bring local produce and other products into the town, launch measures to encourage and support new traders and engage proactively with traders, the shoppers and other retail outlets in the town to agree further measures to stimulate vitality.  Promotional shopping bags will be offered for an introductory period and shoppers are advised to watch out for the ‘Market Fairy’!  The new programme will be progressively introduced after an initial period during which the Council will be assessing the operation as it currently exists.

Cllr Tim Page, chairman of the Town Council’s Localism and Strategy Committee which initiated the challenge says ‘This is great news for Stortford and I am sure we can make a difference with our ideas and by bringing local control to the market.  I am looking forward to the start of a new phase in the market development’. 

Cllr Gary Jones, Leader of the Council, was equally pleased.  ‘This is a good-news story all round and we are delighted our bid was successful.  We are nevertheless very conscious that the hard work starts now.  Ultimately the success of the market is dependent on its customers, and the Town Council encourages the people of the Town and of surrounding communities to support the traders by shopping in the Town Centre on a regular basis.’