Councillors hit back at market ‘disgrace’ claim

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Horncastle’s three district councillors have hit back at a claim the town’s Saturday Market is a ‘disgrace’.

The allegation comes from town councillor Richard Barker, who has accused ELDC of not doing enough to promote the market.

However, his comments – made at last Tuesday’s town council meeting – brought a stinging response from district councillors Richard Avison, Fiona Martin and Sandra Campbell-Wardman.

They stress ELDC is ‘doing everything it can’ to promote town markets and say the decline is a national problem – and not just local.

Horncastle stages two weekly markets – both run by ELDC – on a Thursday and Saturday.

Coun Barker described the Thursday market as ‘reasonable’ and admitted it helped attract visitors.

However, he added: “The Saturday market is a disgraceful. We are down to two or three stalls. That doesn’t present a very good image of the town.

“In my opinion, the reason for that is that it (the Saturday market) is not promoted by ELDC.”

Coun Martin hit back, saying: “I’m sorry but that is simply not true.

“East Lindsey has come up with all kinds of ideas to try and boost local markets.

“I think we need to make it clear that this is not just a problem for Horncastle. It is a national issue.”

Coun Martin went on to highlight the fact that Sleaford’s market had shut down because, she said, of a lack of stall holders.

Coun Avison said that despite strenuous efforts by ELDC, Spilsby market was struggling with ‘just one or two stalls.’

Town councillor Brian Burbidge said that he had spoken to many stall holders in Horncastle.

He revealed they one of the main issues they had raised is no younger people appeared to be interested in taking a stall.

Coun Burbidge said: “All sorts of reasons have been put forward so I specifically asked the stall holders themselves.

“They told me that there are no young people taking up market stalls.

“They (stall holders) say they are getting old and need to take a break from standing out in all weathers.”

Coun Burbidge also acknowledged there appeared to be a lack of footfall on a Saturday in Horncastle, compared to a Thursday.

He added: “The stall holders told me there are not as many people about on a Saturday, for whatever reason.”

Coun Campbell-Wardman stressed it was wrong to blame East Lindsey and said various schemes – including cut price stalls and deals to attract younger traders – had been tried.

Coun Avison suggested that a holding more specialist markets three or four times a year might help attract new interest and new stall holders