KNARESBOROUGH Market is to remain unchanged despite calls from shopkeepers to alter the layout of the stalls.
The centuries-old market held every Wednesday attracts thousands of visitors to the town over the year, and traditionally stalls have always been placed to face inwards rather than serving towards the pavement.
Knaresborough Chamber of Trade and Commerce had asked the Council to consider the changes as its members whose shops surround the Market Square felt that stall holders serving to the pavement would allow greater access to their shops by the public, and address health and safety concerns where stall holders allowed their covers to drape over the pavement.
However, after months of consideration and hearing arguments both for and against changing the position of the stalls, Harrogate Borough Council has decided to leave the settings as they are.
President of the Chamber, Mr Maurice Bardon from the Lavender Tea Rooms said: “We are disappointed with this decision but we will have to accept it.
“We feel the stallholders are holding the Council to ransom and are saying they are not willing to come if it changes. It seems to be a case of the tail wagging the dog.
“Many other market towns have stalls serving to the pavement such as Thirsk, Northallerton and Skipton, there’s only Knaresborough that’s different. I just don’t think this would happen in any other town.”
Following the consultation to get views from the regular market traders, the 18 shop owners whose properties front the Market Square and also Knaresborough Town Council, Mr Patrick Kilburn, Head of Parks and Open Spaces said: “Of the market traders I wrote to, 30 responses were received, all of whom were against the proposals to turn the market round. They felt it would affect the flow of the market and their businesses. Some felt so strongly, they advised if it were done, it would be detrimental to trade and it was unlikely they would continue coming.
“Of the 18 shops written to, seven responses were received with five for the change and two against. Those that wanted the change said they felt isolated from the main thoroughfare and flow of people, and that stalls either concealed their shop frontages or made it difficult to find a way through to the shop.”
Knaresborough Town Council had confirmed its councillors unanimously resolved to see the Market layout remain as it is.
Mr Kilburn added that he was concerned about comments received which said small tables, stock and items placed in gaps between stalls were preventing people from moving freely between the market area and the shops, and he had subsequently asked the Market Superintendent to ensure the spaces were kept free and clear on Market days.
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