Working group aim to 'restore confidence' in Knaresborough's historic market

Knaresborough Market Working Group will meet at the The Mitre
Knaresborough Market Working Group will meet at the The Mitre

The initial steps to ‘restore confidence’ in Knaresborough’s historic market are to be outlined at the first meeting of the town’s working group.

Knaresborough Market Working Group will meet at the The Mitre next Monday (February 12), and identify how a decline in trade at the market could be checked.

Members of Knaresborough Town and Harrogate Borough Council, alongside traders and resident will join the committee on the day.

Mayor of Knaresborough, Coun David Goode, serving as committee Vice-Chair, says that the meeting is ‘exceptionally important’ and follows a particularly difficult period for the market.

He said: “While the weather can have a major impact on the market we have never seen so few traders here. Last week I believe we were looking at five who turned up.

He added: “This meeting is exceptionally important, what we have got to do is restore the confidence in the market for the future. Part of this is looking at the traders and seeing what can be done so they do not desert us.”

The joint initiative between the town council and Harrogate Borough Council follows a public meeting in December. It followed proposals to potentially change how both Knaresborough and Ripon markets could be operated.

While a further public meeting was to be held this will no longer take place, with the committee instead moving forward.

This evening a meeting will also be held in Ripon, with an aim to establish another working group for the city. It is still to be decided if representatives from each of the areas will attend their counterparts’ committee.

Figures published by Harrogate Borough Council show that Knaresborough market saw a 16 per cent decline in trade since 2015. Ripon also saw a drop of 32 per cent in the same period.

Among the ideas that could be considered to improve the market in Knaresborough are making it easier for traders to book stalls online and having an improved website to promote the market.

Harrogate Borough Councillor, Phil Ireland, who is chairing the committee, says that these kind of ideas at the first meeting will help ‘lay the groundwork’ to grow the market.

He said: “This is a meeting to get ideas on the table which we then can put forward towards residents in the future.

“We will be taking ideas that have come from an apolitical group of people who love Knaresborough. Residents can then let us know what they think of them.

“This is laying down the groundwork and ideas that we need to be able to deliver before we have the next meeting.”

He added: “I know we are prepared to put money where our mouths are to make sure the market is successful and that it lasts another 500 to 600 years.”

The make up of the committee is currently expected to include two residents and traders alongside councillors from HBC and KTC.

Knaresborough Chamber of Commerce President, Stephen Teggin, is to serve on the committee and says he is pleased to see work begin.

He said: “This is very important for us all, finally we are going to be getting going and starting to secure the Wednesday market - up until this is begins, it remains under threat.”