BREAKING NEWS: Petworth Farmers’ Market to be axed

Petworth's Christmas market.''Photo by Louise Adams
Petworth's Christmas market.''Photo by Louise Adams

Petworth’s monthly farmers’ market is to be axed, it was announced this week.

Unless the Petworth Business Association and Petworth Town Council can find an alternative provider, the last market will be held in March 2016.

The news follows months of negotiations between the town council and Chichester District Council (CDC) - with the last attempt at saving the market being the proposal to move it to Market Square - however the district council decided this option was not viable.

Cabinet member for environment at CDC, Roger Barrow said concerns had been raised by traders across the town, which ultimately led to the demise of the market.

“Last year we moved it to a monthly market but since then various concerns have been raised by local businesses,” said Cllr Barrow.

“These include the location of the stalls, road closures, the presence of traders’ vans in the road, and, the impact that these issues collectively have on their businesses.

“Chichester District Council has tried to address these concerns by introducing a number of measures.

“But despite these measures, businesses felt they did not resolve their concerns.”

However Petworth town councillor Michael Peet said Petworth Business Association members were ‘unhappy’ with the decision.

Mr Peet added: “With thriving farmer’s markets in nearby towns in Surrey, Hampshire and Berkshire here is a case where our District Council has taken too long to take action, causing many of the stall holders to go elsewhere.

“They have demonstrated an unwillingness to invest in the district’s only farmer’s market north of the Downs and appear to find it easy to hide behind the burden of ‘health and safety’ legislation.”

PETWORTH town councillors are reeling after hearing the news Chichester District Council has decided to axe the town’s monthly market.

Petworth Business Association (PBA) and the town council called for the market to move to the Market Square for a trial period.

But speaking on behalf of CDC, Cllr Barrow said: “We looked at this option, but after much consideration felt that it would not work.

“There were issues with the safety of the location and we felt the same problems raised by businesses would continue even if the market moved.

“The move, combined with the fact the market is running at an increasing loss, would have very likely resulted in increased costs and restricted the number of stalls available.

“Taking everything into account, it was felt that unfortunately the only real option was to cease the Petworth Farmers’ Market.”

Petworth town councillor Michael Peet said the decision was ‘not welcome news’.

“We offered CDC assistance to relocate the Farmer’s Market into Market Square for a trial period in an attempt to increase visibility and drive more visitors to the market stalls, regrettably this initiative has come to nothing,” said Mr Peet.

He said a lack of marketing meant it was ‘totally reliant’ on shoppers in the immediate area.

The market has been in decline for several years with the number of stallholders plummeting to just 11 in August.

Mr Peet added: “Although it causes a marked drop in sales, due to road closures and reduced parking, Petworth’s businesses remain supportive of a thriving market, in a recent survey conducted by the PBA, businesses voted for the market to be moved to Market Square for a trial period.

“For over 12 months PTC and PBA urged CDC to put additional effort into promoting the Petworth Farmers Market because it was evident it was in decline with stall holder numbers falling, poor event signage, a lack of promotion to a wider catchment area and a generally out-of-sight location preventing it from attracting the busy passing tourist traffic have all contributed to its demise.”

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