Derbyshire Dales District Council have agreed a series of measures in the hope of saving three stall markets currently operating at a loss.
At a meeting on Thursday, November 16, councillors signalled a change in direction for Ashbourne, Matlock and Wirksworth markets.
The three weekly events are currently costing local Council Tax payers almost £64,000 a year to keep open.
A spokesman for the council said: “The current average stall occupancy across the Dales’ four market towns is 48 per cent , thanks mainly to the council’s profitable Monday stall market in Bakewell, which yields £111,530 from a 91 per cent occupancy rate.
“Ashbourne’s Thursday market averages only 45 per cent and the Saturday market 50 per cent. They cost £55,966 a year to operate, but bring in only £15,000. Wirksworth is at 54 per cent occupancy, losing £9,742 a year.”
Councillors heard how changes such as a reduced £10 stall hire charge, the introduction of card payments and traders’ forums have had limited effect.
In response, Ashbourne’s Saturday market will move from Market Place to Shrovetide Walk from June next year – supported by 68 per cent of people who responded to a recent survey.
The Thursday market will continue into December, before moving to a seasonal schedule starting in April.
If successful, it will run through to September, but if it does not achieve an average occupancy level of at least 70 per cent by the end of June, then it will close for good.
Wirksworth Town Council will receive £15,000 over three years to take over the town’s Tuesday market, plus £12,500 to facilitate a move to the Memorial Hall and Gardens.
Meanwhile, the council will continue to consider options for Matlock’s indoor market, which currently has only two occupants and loses £13,269 a year.
A new ‘dalesMARKETS’ branding has been introduced, along with plans to increase its online presence.
For the full council report, go to https://goo.gl/ZnWo2C.