1:10pm Friday 22nd March 2013
Plans to expand the popular Rayleigh market are close to being completed, and could see more stalls on the high street by June.
Since the market moved from the top of the high street in late 2011, stall holders, shops and even banks have said how their footfall has dramatically increased on a Wednesday, now making it a busier day than Saturday.
The chairman of the market committee for Rayleigh Town Council, Dave Sperring, said of the expansion: “Plans have been submitted, they’ve [Essex County Council] taken the measurements, we’re now just waiting for the green light.”
The market currently houses 15 stalls in the taxi rank by Boots, including fresh baked goods, pet food and bedding. The 30 stalls on a waiting list to get a pitch reflect the popularity of the market.
The market was in danger of being lost until the town council stepped in, with dwindling trade in the original site.
Mr Sperring said: “If the town council didn’t take over the market, it would have disappeared, and since we moved it to the centre of town it’s really taken off.
“It’s the busiest day in the town and people enjoy it. It brings more people into the town because it’s a really good market, even the banks are busier! The response [since the move] has been a fair reflection of the great work the guys at the town council have done.”
One stall holder, Mark Taylor of Bed Linen Direct, said part of the success of the market is down to the smaller number of stalls available.
Mr Taylor said: “These big markets with hundreds of stalls don’t work and many people don’t go to them. People prefer a small market in the high street. There’s only one of everything in this market. The council decided only one of everything as it keeps us all happy.”
He added: “I’ve been here a year now and it’s great. It’s one of the best markets of the week, it always has been. The council care about us here. They run this market really efficiently and need thanking.”
Punters were equally as positive about the upturn in fortune for the market. For a cold March morning, the high street was buzzing with happy shoppers.
One of them, Shirley Wilkinson, Rayleigh, said: “I come here most Wednesdays. I just like to have a wander around and see what’s about. It’s a great community spirit and better than what it used to be. It was very rare that I’d go to the previous market.”
She added: “It certainly brings more people in now than it did when it was all the way up the hill.”
From May 15-29, Rayleigh will be taking part in the ‘Love Your Market’ fortnight, a national event that aims to provide an extra spotlight on local markets.
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