Could new operators help save Wellingborough’s market?

Wellingborough market
Wellingborough market

New operators could be brought in to run Wellingborough’s market.

Councillors are set to discuss plans which could see an outdoor market place operator introduced to try to turn its fortunes around.

Wellingborough Council has been running the market for many years but even after implementing improvements by the National Association of British Market Authorities (NABMA), this has not led to significant improvement to its offer, number of traders or financial improvement to date.

A report prepared ahead of next week’s meeting of the development committee lists three options:

- continue with the current arrangements, undertaking the NABMA recommendations and try to implement cost savings to reduce the loss

- undertake early engagement with potential outdoor market operators

- close the market

Officers have recommended that the second option of trying to find potential new operators is the preferred choice.

While the the market place is an important part of Wellingborough’s heritage, the report says market places across the country are suffering and Wellingborough’s market has felt the effects of changing shopping habits.

Wellingborough Norse took over its management and day-to-day running in 2012.

The council then set up a market working party (MWP) to develop proposals to enhance, protect and promote the market.

A health check for the market was carried out in 2014, as well as a review of its layout in 2016.

These reports led to a number of recommendations, of which several have been implemented.

An internal audit of the market function was also carried out last December.

But the report says: “The MWP has acted on these recommendations reducing stalls, changing the layout, working with Wellingborough Norse to attract traders through incentives and advertising, and trying to increase footfall by supporting some events in the events space.

“Despite these actions there has been little improvement or a revitalised market offer to date.”

Councillors will be asked to resolve that an early engagment process is undertaken to identify if there are any parties interested in running the market at Monday’s meeting starting at 7pm at Swanspool House.

If it gets the go-ahead, the process will include discussion with traders to ensure their views are included.