Historic street market in Flint earmarked for closure following council review
Flint street market looks set to close following a recommendation in a report to be discussed by councillors next week.
Flintshire currently operates four weekly street markets and one indoor market but their size has declined over recent years, inline with the rest of the UK.
Competition from large multi-national retail chains, supermarkets and on-line shopping has been blamed for much of the decline.
Bustling Mold market is an exception, it has 43 stalls and remains an important shopping destination for many people from all over the county.
Other street markets in Flintshire are struggling, they are attracting fewer market traders and customers which in turn is threatening sustainability.
The council says it has undertaken a review of Flintshire’s markets and carried out consultations with Town Councils in Connah’s Quay, Flint and Holywell as well as market traders in Flint and Holywell.
It’s the second review of street markets in Flintshire in seven years, in 2011 a 120-page study considered the future of markets as a key feature to town centre redevelopment.
Flintshire County Council’s Community and Enterprise Overview and Scrutiny Committee will discuss the latest report next week which recommends the permanent closure of Flint market which currently has six regular stalls.
Flint street market was relaunched following a move from its traditional location on Market Square, it also increased in size from one to over thirty stalls.
However, after an initial boost in the number of customer stall holders struggled to sustain reasonable levels of trade and numbers dwindled.
Despite a number of promotional campaigns to increase awareness enthusiasm for the market has remained lukewarm.
Flint Town Council also feel the road closure every Friday causes disruption to traffic around and disadvantages retailers in Church Street.
A charter to hold a market in the town was first awarded over 700 years ago, Flint’s residents are keen to keep it going they submitted a 252 signature petition in favour of keeping it last year .
The council report says;
“Officers and traders consider that moving the market to another location would take it away from its customer base on Church Street and would not be a viable option.
It is therefore recommended that, due to the disparity between the scale of the market and the disruption to the town inherent in its operation, the Flint street market is closed.”
Connah’s Quay Town Council have expressed interest in taking over the operation of the street market in the town, it was one of the biggest county but has virtually ceased to operate attracting just two traders for many years.
Holywell street market has 12 stalls and will continue to operate but only on an interim basis while discussions continue with the town council over future cost savings.
‘Markets generally contribute to the economic and social vitality of towns and can bring increased footfall to benefit the wider businesses and services.
Whilst this remains true for Mold, the markets in Holywell, Flint and Connah’s Quay have reduced in scale considerably over the years and have shown continued decline in the last four years despite intervention such as promotion and growth initiatives across all market towns.’ The reports says.
Flintshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Economic Development, Councillor Derek Butler, said:
“Markets generally contribute to the economic and social vitality of towns and can bring more people into town to benefit the wider businesses and services.
This is still true in Mold, but the other markets have reduced in size considerably in the last four years, despite promotion and growth initiatives across all market towns.
In this current economic climate, with the Council needing to find further efficiencies on top of the £79m cuts in spending made over the last ten years, it is not realistic to sustain a substantial loss of income into the future.
“We appreciate the concern of local residents, especially those who signed the petition to keep Flint market, and this decision is not being taken lightly.”
Mold market makes over £123,000 a year in income for Flintshire County Council whilst operating costs of Holywell, Flint and Connah’s Quay are greater than the income they generate.
The council says that the recommended changes, if approved, would reduce the funding deficit for the service by £21,000 each year.
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