There are some unhappy faces on Grantham market and it’s not just the traders but the shoppers too.
Last Saturday, the market seemed positively thriving with many visitors enjoying its 15 or so stalls.
But many will hark back to days gone by when the market went all the way down Westgate.
But shoppers and stall holders say, compared to then, today’s market is “pathetic” and “rubbish” and “it’s time the council did something about it”, or else the centuries old market will disappear.
South Kesteven District Council argues it is already on the case, with it freezing rents for another year, realsing that the more rents rise, the fewer traders there are and the less revenue generated for the council.
As part of the budget process, SKDC last month announced an “action plan” to help, with a consultant from Peterborough looking at what can be done, and SKDC sending people to other markets to try and ‘poach’ traders to come to Grantham.
But will it be enough? And what do the traders and shoppers say?
One trader told the Journal that Grantham market is a “shadow of its former self” and demanded SKDC gets on and promotes the market, claiming many other markets around the country are thriving.
As he spoke, a shopper interrupted: “It’s just so sad.”
Jack Bradley of Nottingham-based Cleaver Meats backed SKDC’s efforts. He said: “It would be great to have more traders. It will drag more people in.”
Looking at Belvoir Bakery’s stall, Richard and Patricia Hornby said it was a pleasure to come to Grantham market and the stallholders are all friendly and honest people.
But Mrs Hornby added: “It needs to be a lot bigger. We have lived in Grantham five years. people tell us how wonderful it used to be and how pathetic it has become.”
Belvoir Bakery stallholder Martin Packard said: “It’s not just Grantham market, councils around the country need to invest time and money. You go to London, look at the markets, they have street entertainment and it doesn’t matter if you are after a dustbin or a picture, they have it.”
He said he was proud what his bakery had achieved in its eight years, but SKDC was not promoting the market enough and other traders needed to “stand up a bit and fight back.”
Another stallholder agreed, recalling a “massive” market that filled the whole of Westgate, both sides.
He also demanded the market be advertised, though he was unsure how SKDC might do it.
The trader added: “Let’s hope Grantham Business Club can come up with something as well. There needs to be a push for more retailers in Grantham Business Club.”
Robin Burrows, of Ingoldsby, runs a fruit and veg stall noted for a fine display of hanging pheasants.
He said: “I’m in favour of anything the council does to try and improve the market. Personally, we are very busy. We have been here 25 to 30 years, we are quite happy.”
However, Chris Young of Grantham-based Bloomsbury Bakery, said the market was “decaying rapidly” due to a younger generation prefering to sit on “their asses” and shop online with their phone and laptop and elderly shoppers simply dying off.
He added: “Traders are dropping like flies. We lost two last week. There isn’t much we can do.”
Either way, South Kesteven District Council hasn’t given up, stressing it is committed to Grantham and its other markets.
Cabinet member Nick Robins called Grantham market is a “fundamental” part of the town, key to its status as a market town.
He told the Journal: “The market absolutely needs to be kept and it will be.
“Markets nationwide have changed in the preceding years and shoppers’ habits have changed, as have their expectations. SKDC has set up quarterly forums for traders on all our different markets to ensure that we listen to them. This is a two way information platform and is proving very useful.
“We are doing many things to improve the market. We now have individual markets on social media. The Teenage Market is lined up to compliment the existing market and we are experimenting with pop-up stalls for new traders to bring their goods in a totally different environment. There are many more ideas that we will also be introducing.
“The National Association of British markets has conducted market audits and we are acting on some of their recommendations.”
Coun Robins added: “All our SKDC markets are here to stay and they are an integral part of our historic and wonderful towns.”