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'Spend some money now,' say Covered Market stallholders
TRADERS at Oxford’s historic Covered Market are urging city council leaders to invest now in major improvements.
The call for investment comes after public consultation on a report into how the market is run, which the council commissioned, came to an end last Friday.
Chris Farren, the chairman of the Covered Market Traders’ Association, said the council should implement the recommendations in the report from consultancy firm The Retail Group without delay.
He said: “I would like to have seen this done about five years ago.
“If the council does everything which is recommended in the report it would be excellent.
“What’s not to like about it? They would promote the market and spend some money on it, which are all things they haven’t done in the past.
“We would like to see the council put it into action.”
The Retail Group’s report included a number of recommendations such as spending £4m to make it a third bigger, appointing a manager with complete responsibility for the market, creating a new website, better signs and making it cleaner.
Some of the more eye-catching proposals include creating a roof-top cafe and removing vehicles from Market Street so stalls can be set up there.
The firm also criticised some aspects of how the market is managed, saying it is dated, dark and in need of considerable investment.
This report went out for public consultation and the city council held workshops with the Covered Market traders.
The council has set aside £150,000 to spend on the Covered Market in the next financial year.
Cllr Colin Cook, executive board member for city development, said: “We are cracking on with it and it is in motion.
“We are already looking at the early wins and doing what we can to get those in process.
“The significant developments will, of their nature, require more work.”
He said a report would be presented to the executive board in the new year which he hoped would set out a “road map” for improving the market.
City council spokesman Louisa Dean said an online survey inviting members of the public to have their say attracted a good response and the results were currently being analysed.
She added: “We also consulted with the traders and held a successful and well attended meeting last week.
“All this feedback will be put into a report summarising the findings.
“This will then feed into a report for the executive board in February.”
The market dates back to 1774 and was created to rid the city’s streets of “untidy, messy and unsavoury stalls”.
Street markets in Fish Street, which is now St Aldate’s, and Butcher Row, which is now Queen Street, were stopped by the Oxford Mileways Act 1771, which also established a committee of six university and six city representatives to build a new market.
John Gwynn, the architect behind Magdalen Bridge, drew up the plans and designed the High Street frontage with its four entrances.
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