East Lindsey District Council has dismissed fears about the future of Horncastle’s historic Saturday Market and insisted it is growing in popularity.
Residents, businesses and traders have all expressed doubts about the on-going viability of the market which started in the 13th century.
They say a number of factors - including the recession, car park charges and a lack of management - have led to a worrying decline.
Irene Atkins, who has been shopping at the market for more than 40 years, told the News: “It’s worse than ever and it is not worth coming any more.”
Paul Evans added: “The Farmer’s Market is good but that’s only once a month.
“The rest of the time it’s poor and someone told me it might even close.”
Trader Alan Grant admitted there were concerns.
He said: “A lot of traders who used to come on a Saturday don’t bother. They just stand on a Thursday.
“It’s difficult enough making money but the car parking hasn’t helped and there’s no-one around from ELDC to help.”
In a statement, ELDC said stall occupancy rates for Saturdays were up on last year with 532 stalls occupied between January and August 2013 - compared to 493 for the same period last year.
ELDC also pointed out there was also an increase in car park use.
A spokesman added: “As well as the council’s subsidy of more than £140,000 for markets across East Lindsey each year, the success of the markets is also down to the traders and the shoppers.
“Without the traders and shoppers, markets won’t be a success. We will continue to deliver a programme of publicity to encourage traders to join our markets and the community to visit the markets which also has wider economic benefits to our towns.”
The spokesman also defended the management system saying traders had the telephone number of ELDC’s market manager to discuss issues while a supervisor is also on site every morning a market is held.