West Suffolk markets to move to phase two

More stalls will be joining food traders on West Suffolk markets following the successful introduction of strict ways of protecting shoppers and stall owners.

Following government guidance and positive reviews of phase one market sessions held this week, from Tuesday, June 2, plants and flowers, coffee and cakes, cleaning products, whole foods and pet foods will return for the usual trading hours.

Phase three, the reopening of the markets to more permanent traders, will be decided once phase two has been reviewed and in light of government guidance on non-essential retail.

West Suffolk Council is working with permanent traders through their representatives and was pleased to announce earlier this week, that it had successfully lobbied government on their behalf to ensure their eligibility for grants.

A market liaison group meeting is to be held on Monday, June 1, with Bury traders and calls to traders on the other markets are ongoing to discuss the way forward.

The markets were suspended due to a lack of staffing and a need to prioritise other essential Covid-19 responses. Following careful planning and a review of every session the markets re-opened with food-only stalls, earlier this week on Tuesday, May 26.

The markets will be held at Newmarket on Tuesday and Saturday; at Bury St Edmunds on Wednesday and Saturday; at Brandon from June 15 on Thursday and Saturday; at Mildenhall on Friday and at Haverhill on Friday and Saturday.

Every market has a new layout allowing ample space supported by clear signage for two-metre social distancing whether moving around or queuing.

The number and position of stalls will fit into the ongoing work around how businesses and the streets will operate in town, to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. Traders will be providing contactless payment where possible, will use hand sanitiser and work with customers to ensure safe queuing. Customers are asked to wash their hands as often as they can, and to keep a safe distance.

West Suffolk Council continues to pay business rates on its markets which last year amounted to £65,500, as well as business improvement district levies on this in Bury and Newmarket.

John Griffiths, leader of West Suffolk Council, said: ‘I am very pleased to learn that our first food-only markets operated well within the agreed strict measures to ensure the safety of both the public and stallholders. This next phase could not be happening without shoppers and traders adhering to the assurances in place and I would again thank all concerned and of course the traders for their help on this.

“I was also pleased to announce this week that government has responded to our lobbying for support for our regular traders, who are now eligible for one grant calculated on the number of markets that they trade from at a rate of £2,500 per location with a maximum grant of £10,000. We are working hard to get this support to them as quickly as possible

“The markets will of course continue to be kept under close review but this next step in their reinstatement is also important in the recovery of our town centres and anticipates shops beginning to trade again in June. We would ask shoppers to continue to assist us by following government distancing and other guidance in protecting lives and livelihoods.’

The return of farmers markets, which are run by a private company, is being assessed in light of the lessons learned from safely reinstating the council-run markets and a future announcement will be made.

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