WORTHING Town Centre Initiative will take over the running of the town’s market from today.
The Wednesday market, which has 78 pitches, has been run by Town and Country Markets for the last 11 years but the company’s most recent offer showed a decrease in rent so a vote was taken to run the market in house.
Town centre manager Sharon Clarke said: “There are a lot of regular traders so we wanted to protect the revenues and keep those traders coming along every week. They have got a good relationship with the people of Worthing and a lot of people come down specifically to see them.
“This has always been a popular market because of its location and the footfall is really good.
“In 2002 the original reason that we moved the market to the town centre from Union Place car park was because there was no footfall there and the number of stalls coming each week was gradually getting lower.
“We felt that Worthing should still have a market and now the average footfall is around 18,000 people.
“The Mary Portas Review said markets should be used to add variety to the high street which is something that we are already doing.”
Mrs Clarke said that a greater variety of produce would be added to the market in the long term.
“Some of the things we are looking at is crafts because there are people who are asking for those types of stalls,” she said.
“We are looking for ways to further attract different products.
“We do find it is a different demographic on a Wednesday but the businesses on the high street also see an increase in trade. In the summer, we sometimes get 30 coach-loads down from London specifically for the market, so it is bringing tourists to Worthing which is great.
“It also adds to the vitality of the town and if we can maximise the revenues that it generates then we can invest back into Worthing with things such as the Christmas lights.”
Traders will be seeing a slight decrease to pitch fees and a two-week holiday period has also been added.
Mrs Clarke said: “Regular traders will pay £35 which is down from £39.”
“The pitch fee for casual traders will remain at £45. These figures are comparable to other markets. You can get places where you would pay a lot less but you will not get the footfall of a town centre high street.”