Dereham market moves
For the first time in 20 years Dereham's historic Market Place is set to be packed with its traditional Friday stalls tomorrow. Stallholders and townsfolk have welcomed the long awaited return of Dereham's Friday market as bringing a sparkle back into the heart of the town.
For the first time in 20 years Dereham's historic Market Place is set to be packed with its traditional Friday stalls tomorrow.
Stallholders and townsfolk have welcomed the long awaited return of Dereham's Friday market as bringing a sparkle back into the heart of the town.
But it was only made possible by the discovery of a 200-year-old legal case.
For the past 20 years, the market has been held on the Cowper Road car park, after it was moved from the Market Place to allow road improvements.
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There are now less than half the stalls than in its heyday and pressure has been growing - especially from stallholders - to get the market back in the heart of the town.
The move has stalled because of uncertainty over plans for a £150,000 bus interchange.
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Under the scheme, buses would all enter the town along the High Street and drop off/pick up in bays in the Market Place and they would no longer have to turn round.
The interchange has still not been resolved and Dereham Town Council has tried to get an interim solution - and help it grow again - by putting stalls in parking bays in the Market Place. It would leave room for buses to turn.
But the council faced having to go through the lengthy process of getting a so-called Traffic Regulation Order.
However, the council researched the issue and has discovered case law from the 1800s, which shows the right to have a market in the Market Place.
And from tomorrow the Friday market and the monthly farmers' market will be held in the Market Place on a trial basis. The smaller Tuesday market will continue to be in the town centre.
It is hoped the trial will be successful and allow it to become permanent.
Dereham town clerk Tony Needham explained: “The problem was resolved as a result of case law dating back to the 1800s which established that where the market was operating on a piece of land before it was adopted as a highway, its adoption as a highway was subject to the right to continue to hold a market.
“Therefore the market had a greater right to occupy the parking bays than vehicles and a Traffic Regulation Order was not needed.”
He said a final definitive answer from police and county council's solicitors was still needed.
“If they agree then the trial will be made permanent, if not then we will have to think again. We believe however that evidence we have is so overwhelming that they will come to the same conclusions that we have.”
Town mayor Lynda Turner welcomed the return of the market to its traditional home.
“This is fantastic news both for the traders and the people of Dereham, particularly in these difficult economic times when people are watching every penny. This news, together with the new Christmas lights, will bring a sparkle back into the heart of the town, and put a smile on people's faces.”
A county council spokesman said details were being finalised for the bus interchange and £150,000 had been provisionally allocated in the 2009/10 budget.
*The dates for the trial period are Fridays December 12, 19, January 2 and 9 and farmers' markets on Saturdays December 13 and January 10.