A proposal to relocate a historic weekly market that has taken place in the Market Place of a North Yorkshire town for centuries is set to be raised with the public in the new year.
Pickering’s Monday Market has been held for 800 years and operates under a charter granted in 1211 by King John, but local authority talks are now underway to revive previously mooted plans for a possible move to a council-run car park nearby.
In what will effectively constitute a trial run, the market will be moved to The Ropery car park operated by Ryedale District Council on a temporary basis in January. The temporary relocation will allow for gas supply works to be carried out in the Market Place.
Pickering Town Council has raised the possibility of a permanent relocation in a fresh bid to curb congestion in the Market Place and conflict between motorists, stalls and the public. Rather than taking place in a traditional market square, the market involves stalls along a narrow street.
A questionnaire is being prepared which will ask the public for their views on whether they visit Pickering specifically to go to the market, how it could be improved and if they would support the move.
The town mayor, Coun Joan Lovejoy, said: “It’s still very much up in the melting pot. A lot depends not on our council but the district council because they own and administer the market.
“This is something that there has been a lot of talk about for two or three years now.”
The mayor added: “A questionnaire has been designed and it has been postponed until the better weather when there will be far better footfall and we’ll be able to ask people on the market and shoppers how often they go, whether they like where it is and if they would prefer if it was in the car park.”
One potential issue for councillors is Ryedale District Council’s possible loss of income at The Ropery car park, with the authority having to make £1.2m of savings by 2020.
The market’s previous temporary relocation to the site - again due to roadworks - led to complaints by traders that they were left to stand in puddles when pot holes filled with rain water.
At a recent Pickering Town Council meeting, Beckie Bennett, the head of environment, streetscene and facilities at Ryedale District Council, recognised that the surface of the car park had to be repaired.
She said the district council would consider all the evidence for and against the relocation of the market and that the loss of income from parking charges could be offset by any increased market revenue.
The view of market traders has been split on where the market should be located, according to John Addyman, secretary of the Pickering and District Civic Society, but he believes a move to the car park would benefit all parties.
Mr Addyman said: “From all points of view we would get a better market that would be more pleasant for people to use. When it was moved there temporarily last time a lot of people thought it was a lot better and encouraged more stands to come.”
Any move must not come at additional cost to existing stallholders however, Mr Addyman warned, as some traders were operating on slim margins and have fuel costs to cover in order to attend the market each week.
“As long as the district council gets increased revenue from an increased number of stalls, then it would be good,” he said.