22 Mar 2021
Major changes have been proposed to improve the running of St Albans’ historic Charter Market after extensive consultations with traders and residents. Among the initiatives is a permanent move to gazebos instead of the traditional metal-framed market stalls which are expensive to assemble and dismantle.
Another measure is for St Albans City and District Council, which runs the market, to expand the offering by trialling new markets. This will provide an opportunity for community groups to stage culturally diverse and inclusive markets across the District with the Council’s help.
The Council will look to develop the market with St Albans BID (Business Improvement District) and the St Albans Visitor Partnership which includes market trader representatives. A number of technical changes, including revised trader terms and conditions to improve fraud protection, have also been put forward.
The proposals are to be considered by a meeting of the Council’s Cabinet on Thursday 18 March.
Councillor Mandy McNeil, Portfolio Holder for Business, Tourism and Culture, said: “I initiated a review of the market 18 months ago because it was running at a deficit, losing the Council money, while its huge potential was not being fully realised.
“We now have a plan to make our markets sustainable and financially viable for years to come as well as offering our residents many new exciting features. “The Government has indicated that markets play a key role in maintaining vibrant City Centres, improving footfall to the benefit of shops, restaurants and other local businesses. We agree, and also think that community-led markets in our wards can add more vibrancy in a sustainable way. “
A report to Cabinet about the proposals noted the Council is working with St Albans BID to deliver new markets under the Enjoy St Albans banner – the District’s destination management brand. Last year, Sustainable and Black History Month-themed markets were organised and these will return this year. There are also plans to stage a Young Entrepreneurs Market to help with the COVID-19 recovery by showcasing emerging local businesses. A Bangladeshi market may also be held. The report says that when COVID-19 restrictions allow, the Council will trial gazebo stalls in uniform style and colour.
Final decisions on gazebo appearance and provision will be taken once the results of the pilot scheme have been analysed. The installation of fixed anchor points for the gazebos in the market area pavements is also being looked at to ensure stability in windy conditions. In the longer term, the Council may look at creating a covered market in a regeneration site near the Alban Arena.
The changes were recommended after a review of market operations which started in 2019 and included regular meetings with traders. When the plans were developed, traders were asked to complete an online survey with the proposals being approved by 64% of respondents. A public online survey was also held with around 90% of the comments favouring the proposed changes.
Councillor Mandy McNeil said: “In reviewing our market operations, it was very important that we had the support of a majority of the 80 or so regular traders and positive feedback from our businesses and our residents. “We had more than 700 responses from the public to the online survey and I’m delighted that they were overwhelmingly positive towards our proposals. “People want to see more markets, more innovation, more artisan and local produce, and that is what I am confident we can deliver in partnership with our traders and St Albans BID.”
Councillor contact: Mandy McNeil, Portfolio Holder for Business, Tourism and Culture: 07584 198999, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Media contact: John McJannet, Principal Communications Officer: 01727 819533, email@example.com.