PETWORTH will become the home for farmers’ markets north of the Downs, after the Midhurst market was officially closed.
Chichester District Council cabinet took the decision on Tuesday morning (December 3), citing poor attendance and the market not breaking even.
“Where we are now could not be more in the public eye but there’s still not enough support from the public,” said cabinet member of the environment John Connor.
He added market traders in Midhurst were fed up with low attendance, saying one had told him: ‘I don’t know why I get out of bed to come to Midhurst in the morning – it’s a waste of time’.
Councillors decided the best solution is to close the bi-monthly Midhurst market and turn the bi-monthly Petworth market into a monthly fixture.
Another nail in the coffin has been a change in government legislation, whereby stall holders now must pay business rates –increasing the cost.
Currently, the stall fee for Petworth is £32, but should move to around £36 with the increase.
Midhurst town councillor and market tradesman Steve Morley said: “I think it’s particularly sad that, just as we see our old Market Square re-instated, we now lose our farmer’s market.
“While I am concerned at the loss, I cannot blame CDC for taking it to Petworth.
“The town council tried hard to sustain an interest in the market and hoped bringing it into the open environment of North Street it would flourish.
“By this summer there were not enough residents prepared to use it and so the old adage finally rang true and hence we lose it.
“All is not lost. I remain optimistic because I know groups are putting together plans to revive other types of markets in the square.
“Hopefully they will bring even more character and perhaps new spice to our town in the future.
“Historically Midhurst was always known as a market town and we are determined it will still be a market town in years to come.”