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Fears for market

PUBLISHED: 13:37 27 February 2008 | UPDATED: 14:28 07 July 2010

Our market could die - and we must act urgently to save it.

That was the message from Dereham councillors this week as they agreed an action plan to raise the number and variety of stalls, increase competition, and raise the profile of the Friday market.

Our market could die - and we must act urgently to save it.

That was the message from Dereham councillors this week as they agreed an action plan to raise the number and variety of stalls, increase competition, and raise the profile of the Friday market.

Dereham was once renowned for its market and people flocked from far and wide to wander round the varied selection of goods on sale.

The number of regular stalls has dropped to about seven or eight and hopes of returning the market from Cowper Road car park to the centre of town are on hold until an agreement can be reached over a bus interchange.

Town councillor Michael Fanthorpe opened a debate over its future on Tuesday night with an impassioned plea: "Dereham market is struggling, it is dying. We must take emergency measures to revive it."

He called for more antique, collectables and curiosity stalls to be encouraged and fellow councillors agreed to charge £5 for a stall up to 8ft.

There will be no increase on the 80p a foot charge for permanent stalls and £1 per foot for casual traders. A 30pc reduction is in place between December and March.

Mr Fanthorpe said: "It will help the market grow and become interesting to the general public. If we carry on it will die and disappear down the plug hole. We can help it become one of the most important markets in Norfolk. People don't come to buy clothes any more as cheap clothes are everywhere. We need to diversify."

He added: "The market used to bring in £52,000 a year for this council - £1000 a week and now we only have seven stalls. We have got to do something drastic."

Mr Fanthorpe envisaged "an enormous five-star car boot sale."

Councillors also agreed to reverse a previous policy of limiting competition.

Markets and buildings committee chairman Linda Monument said she had received complaints from traders at other markets that used to come to Dereham about the lack of competition.

Phillip Duigan said at one point there was a waiting list for stalls but "now we are in a totally different position."

What do you think of the market and the plan to save it? Contact Ian Clarke at Bond House, High Street, Dereham, NR19 1DZ or e-mail ian.clarke@archant.co.uk .

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