A town council said they would fight for the future of their street market as “if it’s not running at a deficit, it’s running at a gain”.
Nial Waller, enterprise and regeneration manager from Flintshire Council, met with Holywell Town Council for a second time last week to regauge their views on dissolving the street market in the town centre.
During the current review of the three underperforming street markets in Flintshire – Holywell, Flint and Connah’s Quay – Flintshire Council took to the towns to hear the views of councillors, traders and customers.
Councillors were against dissolving the street market in Holywell as it remained a fundamental part of the town’s identity and history.
Cllr Karen Davies added the town has “been here forever” and that it has “always been known as the market town”.
According to Mr Waller, the review was to understand “what the future looks like and whether it’s beyond a level of long-term sustainability”.
He said: “We have tried many promotional trials, but there are no predisposed solutions. We have a steady input of people trying it out (as traders) but no one stays because the level of trade is insufficient.
“In Holywell, the footfall is less than it looks but they value the loyal customer. Without hesitation, traders want to stay.”
Mr Waller explained that an “oddity” exists in Flintshire’s street market reviews. While the income target generated from markets rises, the markets have “year on year decreased”, which widens the gap of of loss between trading and income targets.
But, he said: “As a collective, Flintshire makes a small income on its markets. Back in the day, this would have been a healthy income, but this current income is solely due to Mold with its indoor and outdoor markets.”
Cllr Rosetta Dolphin replied to the observation that Holywell has remained “at a steady trade for many years”.
She said: “An income is an income, no matter how much is made. If we’re not running at a deficit, we’re running at a gain.
“Holywell needs its markets. If traders want to stay, they must be having custom. I will fight for this within my role at Flintshire Council.”
In a bid to keep the markets alive, councillors considered various means of reducing the costs of staffing, of which Flintshire Council currently pay approximately £9,000 per year for Holywell alone.
As Holywell market reaps about £3,500 income per year, councillors believed the £6,000 subsidiary could be saved through sharing staff with another service.
These could include litter-pickers, gardeners, or street cleaners, acting as a “multi-tasking person”, as Cllr Joe Johnson said.
Mr Waller said: “The only way to save costs is to share staff with another service. This is not easy because there is no pool of other people. We need another body to introduce.”
In a further bid to reduce staffing costs, councillors suggested the markets become self-regulatory, reducing the need for a county representative to collect rent each week and instead for traders to pay rent at the town hall.
Cllr Ted Palmer concluded: “By looking at the situation and reviewing roles, we can cut costs to Holywell street market.”
The reviews of the three towns will be discussed at a county council cabinet meeting in March, where a series of recommendations will offer direction on how to proceed.