A DRIVE to inject new life into Redditch market has been agreed by borough councillors.
On Tuesday night they gave the green light to a ‘soft market testing’ exercise on the running of the market, with the aim of looking at as many options as possible in a bid to make the Church Green fixture more vibrant.
The market, which provided an income of over £25,000 to the council in the last financial year, is currently managed and operated by the North Worcestershire Economic Development Regeneration body.
However it now wants to look at other ways of operating it, including appointing an external contractor to manage the market.
“The market is of huge importance to the town centre so we want to get this right rather than rushing it through, therefore we are taking a considered approach and want to look at all the options,” Councillor Greg Chance told the borough’s executive committee.
Options include reducing market days from five days to three, introducing ‘pop up’ stalls, producing a covered food hall, more marketing and more integration with the rest of the town centre.
Redditch market traders have already voiced their opposition to being run by a private organisation, saying this would not bring any real benefits to the town or traders.
However they are prepared to take on the running of the market themselves: “We are against private intervention,” said spokesman Bob Whiston, “but we would be more than happy to run the market ourselves as a co-operative.”
Redditch Town Centre Partnership is also interested in running the market. A spokesperson said: “The market is vital for the vibrancy and vitality of the town centre. As a community interested company we are interested in running the market but we would need to see how feasible this would be for us.”
Meanwhile members of the Conservative group hit out at the failure of the council to make open a consultant’s report into the future management of Redditch market.
Conservative group leader Coun Juliet Brunner said they had been refused sight of the report by the council’s chief executive.
“This report has been effectively kept from us and obviously we are concerned that there is something you are trying to hide,” she told the executive committee.
However Coun Greg Chance denied the Labour group was running ‘a secret society’. “We are trying to get as many options possible on how we can run the market. Once we have all the information everything will be shared with all the members,” he said.