A MAJOR revamp is being planned for Morpeth Market in a new partnership.
Sanderson Arcade has signed a three-year deal with Northumberland County Council to relaunch the weekly Wednesday market and monthly farmers’ market.
There will be new stalls, anchor points, power supplies, a diary of events and a marketing budget.
The revamped markets will be launched at a new annual Morpeth Food and Drink Festival in October, which could involve all of the town’s restaurants, pubs and cafes.
Sanderson Arcade Manager Medi Parry, who set up a similar scheme in Lincolnshire, said: “It is going to deliver long-term benefits to Morpeth and the markets. We want them to grow and bring more people to Morpeth.
“Last year, the Wednesday market was suffering a little bit. A market manager was employed and it has benefited the market so now there is a need to move forward with more improvements.
“Agreement has been reached that Sanderson Arcade and Northumberland County Council will invest in what it needs to relaunch both the Wednesday market and the farmers’ market, but we are also looking at ways that we can work together with everyone to make sure that the markets are sustainable.
“We want to make sure that the markets are full and that their offer is high-quality.”
It is hoped that 20 stalls a week will be at the market, each in blue and white livery and displaying the More In Morpeth branding. They will be stored on Sanderson Arcade property and erected by council staff. No vehicles will be allowed in the Market Place.
A recent survey showing what shoppers would like to see at the market will be used to target potential new traders and, in a change of policy, local shops and businesses will be allowed stalls.
The market will continue to be run by Manager Neil Brown, but with extra support from arcade staff.
Morpeth Markets Partnership, Morpeth Town Council and the Town Team are all involved in discussions.
Ms Parry said: “The market manager has spoken to the traders and the general feedback has been positive. There is a bit of apprehension because it is changing, but we will work with everyone and accommodate them in any way we can because it is important to keep people on board.”
Morpeth Town Council’s Property and Asset Management Committee welcomed the initiative and members were keen that the town’s 800-year-old Market Charter should be used in the marketing campaign.
Coun Ken Brown said: “That is a unique selling point.”
County Council Board Member for Streetcare and Environment Deirdre Campbell said: “Northumberland County Council is pleased to announce the developments planned for Morpeth Market, which are part of a wider ongoing countywide initiative to improve our markets in general.”
Market traders supported the plan.
Tim Monkhouse, of Papa Ganoush street food, said: “I think it is fantastic. Increasing the footfall and getting people to change things around has got to be a positive thing. The market manager is a lovely guy, really accommodating and forward-thinking.”
Julian Negrut, who runs a fruit and veg stall, added: “It’s good because this market could go back to the way it was. These changes should have ben done a long time ago. When Morpeth changed with the new arcade the market should have changed straight away, but it didn’t and we lost some of the traders who were here for years. Now the market is getting better again.”
Morpeth Town Team Chairman David Lodge said: “This is a great example of the public and private sector working together to the benefit of the local economy.”
The Morpeth Food and Drink Festival and market relaunch will take place on Saturday, October 5.
Anyone interested in joining the market should contact Mr Brown on 07713 115204.