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South Holland District Council markets manager Ian Dunn looks ahead to the plan for Spalding, Holbeach, Long Sutton and Crowland

For hundreds of years South Holland’s markets have played an important role in our towns – but now the team in charge of the district’s stalls are working hard to ensure the legacy continues.

South Holland District Council’s markets manager Ian Dunn and fellow officer Paul Stannard say the future is looking bright for the weekly events in Spalding, Holbeach, Long Sutton and Crowland.

A development plan is being devised, a dedicated social media account established and funding is being sought for new gazebos to give a uniform look to Spalding market, while a consistent approach has helped to drive some improvements in recent months.

Markets manager Ian Dunn and markets officer Paul Stannard at Spalding market
Markets manager Ian Dunn and markets officer Paul Stannard at Spalding market

While stalls have been part of Spalding’s street scene since before the Domesday Book with a charter granted by Henry III in 1242, Ian and markets officer Paul say shopping habits are changing – but they want to make the most of what we have got.

Mr Dunn said: “It is about sustaining and trying to improve what we have got. Nothing is going to be what it was ten to 15 years ago - the high street isn’t what it was 20 years ago.

“People’s retail habits have changed. We are trying our best to make it the best it can be.

“Our job is to make it a bright future. My job is to ensure that Spalding has a bright future and will be here for a long time. All markets have a royal charter and it is important that we continue that legacy. We have really good support from the portfolio holder Tracey Carter. Members want markets - it is a priority for the town centre.

“History is important for me as markets have been the life blood.”

Between 15 and 20 stalls stand at Spalding’s market on Tuesday and Saturday – with the former being the most popular.

In recent months, the team has introduced a teenage market which was aimed at encouraging younger people to take a stall – and it has proved to be popular. Three young traders stood at the event in the summer.

Mr Dunn said: “Nationally stall occupancy is down to 72% and 8% of traders are under the age of 40. There are quite a lot of initiatives to promote market trading to younger people. We have promoted the teenage market.

“We are trying to encourage the younger generation to become market traders. It’s a great way for young entrepreneurs to start a business as there are no overheads on the market and it is different to running a shop. We are really keen to push that.”

Council leader Nick Worth has told this newspaper shortly after he took office that reviving the area’s markets was a top priority for him and shared an ambition to have snap up easy-to-assemble colourful gazebo-style stalls.

This is one of a number of improvements planned for the area’s markets in the coming months.

Mr Dunn, who is hoping to find funding for the gazebos, said: “We are hoping to get own set of gazebos to give a uniform look to the market.

“We have started up a Facebook page to promote the market. It’s had an impact since June as we had more traders.

“I am putting together a development plan for South Holland.”

Mr Dunn says that relationships with traders have improved and praised Paul for his role in that.

He added: “One thing we really do well is working with the events team and put on as many events. Events help the footfall. Please come and support us. You never know what bargain you can pick up. You won’t get fresher fruit and veg.”

Mr Dunn is also hoping to undertake some research to find the town’s historic market charters.

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