Street market for Thornbury approved
A TWICE-monthly market in Thornbury High Street has been approved, despite objections from some traders and residents.
The town’s chamber of commerce was among 15 opponents of the block street trading application from market organisers Green Top Events, who cited concerns about road safety and shops losing trade.
But South Gloucestershire Council’s licensing sub-committee granted permission today, after hearing most of the stallholders, on the second and fourth Saturday of each month, would eventually be local traders and artisans, and that it would increase the number of customers visiting stores.
Trial runs of the market were held on two weekends in October.
Gary Marsh, owner of independent home interiors shop Papilio at Heritage, told members: “Bluntly, the days when there was enough footfall and custom for shops that we were able to support a street market, as well as the high street retailers, are long gone.
“We are fishing in an ever-decreasing pool.”
Mr Marsh said only two of the 30 market traders listed in the application were local, with more than half from Wales and three from Hereford.
“Almost all of those traders will compete with the existing high street retailers in Thornbury,” he said.
“I don’t need to emphasise the perilous nature of the retailers.
“We are one of the largest independent retailers in the High Street, and we broke even the year before covid.
“Goodness knows where we will be next year.
“In terms of the local economy, my picture for the committee would be: you’re being invited to build a pipeline between Thornbury and Wales and ask all the high street retailers to shovel £20 notes into it, because that will be the effect – people coming into the town to sell their goods and wares, in competition with those of the high street.
“Most of that money will go out over the Severn Bridge and certainly out of South Gloucestershire.”
Chamber of commerce secretary Zoe Gilbraith said deliveries to one side of the High Street could not be made to the rear of properties, and the market would cause safety issues.
“Having markets doesn’t help money be spent in shops,” she said.
“We don’t think it’s the right time or the right frequency to have a market.”
Penny Skinner, who used to run food fairs in Castle Street, said approving the street market would take income out of Thornbury and should be delayed until the consultation on the experimental pedestrianisation of the main road to help social distancing had been completed.
Alan Jones said takings at the charity shop where he worked as a volunteer halved on the day of the organisers’ inaugural market in October.
“We already have a Saturday market licensed in the car park in Rock Street, which has diminished over the years, so I can’t see a market in the High Street being of any use to us.
“Basically we don’t want it. End of story.”
But Jan Walsh, of Green Top Events, told the panel that the firm had been organising markets for 10 years and that they increased shops’ visitors.
She said: “The model has always been collaborative.
“The first market held in Thornbury was a test, and while I can absolutely understand the concerns that there were quite a number of stalls that were not local, we had to provide a good quality to demonstrate the type of traders we’re looking at.”
Ms Walsh said their market in Chepstow began as a monthly event three years ago but had become so popular it was now weekly, and that local businesses and hobbyists were now the predominant traders, which would be the model for Thornbury as it grew.
She said: “We have experience and knowledge that footfall is driven up quite significantly in a town that has a good quality market.”
Gareth O’Sullivan said on behalf of the company that, unlike the test event two months ago, which had been a “learning curve”, stall gazebos would face the shops, so customers could go easily to both.
He said that while some people objected, 300 to 400 others were in favour of the market.
Donna Whinham, the council’s regeneration manager for economic recovery from coronavirus, wrote in support and told the hearing that the market would support the High Street.
Members approved the application for the market, which will trade from 10am to 3pm between Castle Street and The Close from February 27, with conditions, including ensuring no stallholders were selling the same goods as high street shops, so they were not in direct competition.
By Adam Postans, Local Democracy Reporting Service
Picture: One of the street markets held in October. Picture: Roger Gosling.