Struggling charter market comes in for fresh criticism

Berwick’s twice-weekly charter market has been labelled ‘dire’ and ‘a disgrace’ by town councillors.

Monday, 28th January 2019, 10:04 am

There are only a handful of stalls at the Saturday market in the winter, with even fewer on a Wednesday.

Coun Ivor Dixon said: “The market at the moment is a total disgrace and has been for years.

“A lot of people in the town would like to see a farmers’ market included but that’s been talked about for years and nothing ever gets done.”

Coun Lesley Stephenson added: “Our market is dire. It’s shocking.

“There are people selling quality goods who would be interested in supporting a farmers’ market.

“People visiting Berwick also want quality goods and local produce. We want to push home-grown products.”

They were speaking at the town council’s budget and administration committee meeting following a presentation by Northumberland County Council.

Greg Gavin, head of neighbourhood services with responsibility for markets, admitted that they faced ‘significant challenges’.

“Markets are struggling up and down the country and Northumberland is no different,” he said.

The council has reviewed its markets strategy with its key goal to reduce the declining number of traders.

Neil Brown, the council’s markets manager, said: “Trader numbers are down by as much as 50% in the UK. We want to work to ensure the market reflects local needs. We’re open to ideas but we have not got all the solutions.”

Coun Georgina Hill, county councillor for Berwick East, said a fundamental rethink was needed.

“Town centres have changed and, frankly, with one or two exceptions, it’s an eyesore,” she said. “We would be better off getting rid of the market in its current form.”

Town councillors are keen to have a farmers’ market over the late May holiday weekend.