Wiltshire Publications

Issue 450 – Businessman vows to push ahead with weekly market plans

THE BUSINESSMAN seeking to set up a weekly market in the Market Place has vowed to push ahead, despite encountering difficulties with his application.

Laurence Williams, who also operates North-acre market, has decided to continue with an application to close the Market Place to traffic on Thursdays for a market of around 18 stalls.
He said he was encouraged to persist after reading that local people supported the idea in the last issue of the White Horse News.
Laurence Williams said, “Reading the article in the White Horse News has really spurred me on to go ahead with it, after reading people are behind the idea.”
He had changed the original layout of the market when the town council raised concerns about taking up all the parking spaces, but due to licensing conditions, couldn’t fit more than six stalls on the pavement.
Laurence Williams has now decided to resubmit his original plan, and go for a road closure in the Market Place. He said, “We listened when the town council voiced their concerns about parking, and [cllr Russell Hawker] said it was ill conceived. Well it was well thought out, and we discussed it with Wiltshire Council many times.
“We decided to try and go on the pavement, but that meant we could only get half a dozen traders on there. It wouldn’t be worth it and people would think ‘we’ve had all this fuss for nothing’.
“I’m going to push on now regardless, I want to take up the parking and get the road closed. I want at least 18 traders. Other towns do it so I’m sure Westbury can.
“I’m going to go to the pubs and businesses around the Market Place and say ‘this is what I want to do’. So many people want the market, I’m going to approach the council and say I’m going through with it and I’ve got the support.”
Paul Morris, from the Lopes Arms, is backing the plans.
He said, “I think this is very good news. If we’re going to get a market then we’ve simply got to get on and get it approved.”
“Whilst shutting the Market Place is a problem for access, it’s better having that sort of problem than no market at all. Overall I think the benefits are in the Market Place’s favour. I’m definitely backing Laurence.”
The final decision on whether the market will get permission or not rests with Wiltshire Council, but Westbury Town Council will have the opportunity to comment on the plans.
Westbury Mayor, cllr Sue Ezra, said, “I can’t speak for the rest of the council but I think that Westbury needs the market. I think if there was a market it would bring people back into the town and help join up the town, encouraging people to walk through the town and hopefully use the shops as well.
“I really do want to see the market and don’t want just six stalls.”
However cllr Russell Hawker has said he still has reservations about the plans.
He said, “It comes as a surprise. I can’t speak for the whole committee, but it’s something that we’re going to have to look at very carefully. Whilst we have always supported the idea of a market, we did have valid concerns. We don’t want a regular market to be unnecessarily taking up car parking spaces which could otherwise be free to support the other businesses.
“People say ‘why can’t the Market Place be closed for the market, like it is for the Italian or French markets’, but these are a different set of circumstances and I think it could have an adverse effect on other businesses. I still think the same as I did last time round.”
Cllr Hawker added that the best solution would be to address the licensing problem, to allow more stalls on the paved areas of the Market Place.