Relocation proves to be a boon for town market but challenges remain

Huntingdon's revamped market in the High Street

Huntingdon's revamped market in the High Street - Credit: Archant

Huntingdon market is now four times the size it used to be, according to a district council report.

Huntingdonshire District Council’s annual review of markets said the number of stalls on the market in Huntingdon had quadrupled since 2016, with the decision to move pitches along High Street from the Market Square a key factor.

The market was relocated in September 2017 in an effort to allow stall holders to capture more footfall and reinvigorate both the market and the High Street.

In the annual report, which went before the overview and scrutiny panel earlier this month, the council said Huntingdon market had gone into decline by 2015/16 and hadn’t “been given much focus”.

With the appointment of a new markets officer in 2016, however, the council was able to introduce a series of improvements that have seen a return to growth. The number of pitches in use averaged 82 per cent on Saturdays and 68 per cent on Wednesdays, the council report said.

Councillor Marge Beuttell, executive councillor for operations and regulation, said: “Supporting our retailers is a key part of a vibrant economy and place to live, and I am keen to do all I can to support them. Our high streets and their markets have a lot to offer and I would encourage all our residents to support them by shopping locally. The re-location of the Huntingdon market along the High Street, to make it the heart of the town on market days, has been very successful.”

Challenges remain for the Huntingdon markets, however, with the report noting that the Wednesday market had seen a drop in the number of traders.

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The report added: “Ultimately, it may be necessary to consider whether it is viable to operate two markets in Huntingdon each week.”

Cllr Beuttell added: “The council has worked successfully with the business improvement districts, St Ives Town Centre Initiative and the town councils to run events to encourage visitors.

“Following the success of these in 2018, the council intends to develop additional activities and events, to encourage more people to visit our towns and support businesses.”

Prices for pitch fees on markets in 2019/20 will rise in line with inflation, the council said.