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Basingstoke market moves back
BASINGSTOKE market has this week moved back to its former location at the Top of The Town for the Christmas period after stallholders struggled to attract shoppers.
As previously reported in The Gazette, the Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday markets were relocated on October 28 to a temporary site at the bottom of Wote Street, between Debenhams and Central car park, so a £280,000 project to repave Market Place could begin.
Graham Merry and his wife Debbie, from Old Basing, stopped selling their home-made cards every Thursday after the market moved because of a lack of customers.
Mr Merry, 50, told The Gazette: “We have stopped selling cards due to the lack of footfall coming to the area. My wife and I sell Christmas cards so we could have done with the trade at this time.”
Mr Merry also blamed a lack of signage directing people to the new location, adding: “The signs that have been put up are far too small.
“We spent most of the summer knowing something was going to happen, but we had no firm date so we couldn’t tell people.”
The 22-week improvement scheme, being carried out by Hampshire County Council in the Top of The Town, was scheduled to be put on hold during the Christmas period until January 5. It is hoped that traders will see business pick up in time for Small Business Saturday this weekend.
Councillor Ranil Jayawardena, deputy leader of Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council, said: “We are looking forward to the work being finished to give Basingstoke a much-improved Market Place, and have been working with the county council to try to keep disruption to a minimum.
“Our market traders asked if they could change the plans and go back ‘home’ for Christmas as they were not getting the same level of trade in their new location.
“As we have activities starting this weekend to mark Small Business Saturday and support Basingstoke’s smaller retailers during the Christmas period, it seemed only right that we help our smallest traders by putting the market back where it will get more footfall.”
The scheme to repave Market Place is part of the county council’s work to improve roads and pavements to help them remain in good condition for longer, and part of the borough council’s wider improvements for the town centre area.
Work will include taking up the old paving, reconstructing the base, and laying new slabs. The market will move back to the temporary area on January 8 while the rest of the work is carried out.
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