Wiltshire Publications

Issue 449 – Town Council hits back over Market Place criticism

WESTBURY Town Council has hit back at accusations that it is not doing enough to promote events and activities in the Market Place.

The owners of Charlies Bar, Helen Jones and Richard Stokes, have complained that since the Market Place was renovated earlier this year, events have been thin on the ground.
Helen Jones said, “There’s nothing to attract people into Westbury. When we heard about the new plans we thought ‘fantastic’, we can get some seating out of the pub. But then we found out we needed planning permission and some got it, some didn’t.
“We should be having regular markets and events like the Italian market and French market. Christmas is coming up and we should have a Christmas market in the Market Place bringing people in, but that’s not been done. I think the council just sit there, have their coffee and aren’t worried. They should be pushing more for the Market Place. We used to have an ice rink at Christmas but that’s gone. At the end of the day the changes haven’t helped trade whatsoever.”
Helen Jones’ views come following news that a proposed Thursday market in the Market Place is on hold following problems with licences and the positioning of stalls.
Richard Stokes added, “If it carries on like it is then premises won’t be open this time next year. Every time we have a do in the Market Place it’s good. We should be having more dos, but it hasn’t happened yet. All they’ve created is a smaller parking area. The weekly market is the sort of thing the Westbury needs to attract customers into the town. People are struggling, that’s the bottom line.”
However town councillors have hit back, saying that they are 100 percent behind promoting events in the Market Place.
Westbury mayor, cllr Sue Ezra said, “The reason the weekly market isn’t going ahead is nothing to do with the town council. It is disappointing, but we can’t force Wiltshire Council to allow it. It’s a real shame the application for a weekly market has been withdrawn, I hope they can get around it somehow. The applicant wants the market, the townspeople want it and the town council want it.”
“We have been getting some things into the Market Place, we’ve had the Italian market and the French market, and we will support those again. We are backing the Market Place all the way. We are doing our utmost to ensure there are different events in the Market Place, and if people come forward with ideas we’ll get behind them.”
Cllr Ezra added that the town council wanted to see more happening in the Market Place, and was hoping to install bollards to prevent cars from parking on the pavement in the square.
Paul Morris, who runs the Lopes Arms, said, “I’ve said to the local council both in letter and chatting that I see little point spending all that money, much improved though the Market Place is, if there aren’t going to be more events on.
“The Italian market and the French market are good for business, but they also draw Westbury together and make it feel a much nicer place to live.
“I’d like to see an old fashioned market but there doesn’t seem to be enough interested people to push forward ideas. I think we have to find some way, the mindset needs to be ‘How can we make this work?’”
Cllr Mike Cuthbert Murray said, “The council and its officers endeavour to hold as many events in the Market Place as possible.
“We have had two speciality markets recently which were a great success. We welcome ideas and contributions from the general public to make these a reality.
“I would say that if anyone would like to contact the town council about helping out in events we would be most pleased to hear from them.”