Sunday is Marlborough’s big day as the new community market hits the High Street
Marlborough’s first not-for-profit community market hits the High Street on Sunday (July 1) when more than 20 marquees go up in an enterprise that may herald the regular street markets coming under permanent local control.
It will be a big day for the town as local organisations combine their efforts to fill the gap created when the traditional Farmers’ Market ceased trading last July after 13 years sited in the town hall.
From 11am to 4pm there will be an explosion of delights to eat and enjoy – many not seen before – that will provide a new buzz on a once a month initial basis, as well as creating fun events for children too.
And already the arrival of the community market is being seen as a base for a bid for Marlborough town council to take overall control of the regular weekday markets from Wiltshire Council, together - may be - with local parking too.
“It is going to be a very exciting weekend,” declared Councillor Richard Pitts. “We have 20 companies already signed up to come with their marquees as well as individuals too who are launching new businesses."
“If it all takes off properly – and I’ve no doubt it will get public support – we would then have the vehicle for going ahead with the market full-time. And that would be true localism.”
He has helped to focus attention on change through Marlborough’s Transition Town group supported by Marlborough Town Council, which is due to make a £3,000 grant to the new Marlborough Communities Market to give the enterprise a head start.
Transition Town has been working since February with Ellie Gill, the Wessex Community Markets organiser, to establish a new market in Marlborough that aims to revive the vital links that previously existed with alternative food networks in the town and its surrounding villages.
And to extend what they provide into new areas too such as Ramsbury Tea, who supply a range of Fairtrade products, as well as those who can offer attractive local arts and crafts to decorate the home.
“I am truly astonished by the high level of products being put forward,” said Ellie. “I always knew that the countryside in Wiltshire hid some talented artisans, food producers and artists as I am a regular customer at farmers’ markets and craft fairs. But to have so many in the immediate vicinity of Marlborough has come as something of a delightful surprise.”
So Sunday’s market, which will see the arrival of a 1934 red Routemaster bus with a kitchen on the lower floor and a small cafe upstairs, will be offering bread, honey, cooked foods and Middle Eastern mezze from Calne.
There will be textiles and sculptures, eggs and preserves, beautiful hand-woven shawls, handmade soaps plus cut flowers, herbs and perennials galore. New businesses have been encouraged to become involved under the market's Table for a Tenner scheme.
“And the reason for calling it a community market is because it will be run as a not-for-profit, social enterprise owned by the people o Marlborough and the surrounding villages, all profits going to benefit them and the community,” said Councillor Pitts.
The possibilities for Marlborough having greater control over its own future are also in the air with town councillors seeking to extend their limited powers under the new Localism legislation.
Councillor Nick Fogg, also a member of Wiltshire Council, has warned that despite attending two briefings on the Localism legislation he is still unsure how it will work, and he has warned the town council to be wary of what demands it makes.
“Wiltshire won’t be keen on a takeover,” he said. “The market is a little earner for them. Unless there is some statutory mean of getting the market permanently transferred to us, then we may be wasting out time attempting to do this.”
But Councillor Bryan Castle pointed out that Wiltshire had some years ago canvassed town councils as to what services they might like to take over in the future. “And we ticked every box,” he recalled. “So we are on record as saying before that we would like to take over the operation of the Marlborough street market."
“There is no harm in us reiterating now that we would like to do so subject to all the finances and legal matters being agreed.”