How Calderdale markets have proved to be success during the pandemic
Calderdale’s markets have largely proved a success story through the pandemic, with those at Brighouse, Elland, Todmorden and Hebden Bridge being particularly strongly supported by their communities.
John Walker, Calderdale’s Markets Manager, told councillors Todmorden Market Hall had been very well supported through the pandemic and despite a small number of traders giving up their stalls it was now fully let.
At Todmorden’s outside market Wednesday and Friday occupancy was still a problem after a period where it had been falling, but occupancy had increased over other days.
Hebden Bridge Market had been very strongly supported, so much so that on Saturdays demand for stalls exceeded supply and a solution had been found by offering some to the traders stalls at Todmorden, which is just four miles up the road.
The same thing has happened on Sundays where the waiting list, now at double the size of available space at Hebden Bridge, has had to be suspended.
All the secure trading units at Brighouse Market are fully occupied, with new businesses centred on food seeing local people enter market trading, and the new Sunday trading day introduced in July was steadily growing, Mr Walker told the council’s Cabinet Markets Working Party.
He reported that dialogue between himself and several traders has recently resulted in establishment of a Traders’ Committee and this is proving very successful in enabling effective communication, with the traders rising to challenges by delivering their own events to attract greater footfall.
Another success story was at Elland, where the market was relocated shortly before the pandemic due to very low occupancy at Southgate where banks and other businesses had left the town.
Now relocated to Town Hall Square, footfall and income had increased significantly and it averaged around 17 stalls, one drawback being traders finishing early because they had sold out by early afternoon.
Halifax Borough Market has been hit hardest by the pandemic – restrictions affecting footfall as more people have worked from home – and has a 20 per cent vacancy rate at the moment, said Mr Walker.
It has stabilised at around 6,500 customers a day, which is about half of normal levels, though it has been given a boost by establishing an online presence and the restart of events at the refurbished Albany Arcade, which hosted the Halifax Festival of Words.
Calderdale Council Cabinet had agreed to close Sowerby Bridge Market per se, but thought had to be given to alternative and future market delivery, possibly around themed events, said Mr Walker.
The meeting heard there are shortfalls in the markets service – main issues being a forecast shortfall in income of £189,000 from Halifax Borough Market and a forecast shortfall in income of £20,000 from Todmorden Market Hall.
Although these meant there were challenges to meet, it was stressed this was compared to what it was hoped the service would make – markets made a surplus of cash for the council.
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