Swaffham market traders divided on plans for occasional Friday evening market

Plans to start an occasional Friday evening market in Swaffham have divided market traders ahead of an extraordinary meeting of the market committee to discuss the issue next week.

The proposals aim to replicate the successful launch of an evening market in Thetford last month, which organisers claimed attracted about 1,000 people to a variety of craft and food stalls and live music.

Speaking in a personal capacity, Sheila Lister, who chairs Swaffham town council's market committee, said she would like to involve the town's shops, pubs and restaurants in a bid to bring more trade to the town.

She said: 'I would like to encourage people to stop when they are going through to the coast and get the local villagers involved and coming back to Swaffham to do their shopping. It's about giving a buzz feeling to the town.'

Although shops and traders are currently being consulted, she envisaged an evening market at the end of July and August, and again in November before the Christmas period.

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However, while some traders supported the plans, others feared it could undermine the existing Saturday market.

One Saturday stall holder, whose family have been at the market for 60 years, said: 'It's a ridiculous idea. What's the point of doing a market on Saturday if you have one on Friday. The Saturday market will have to close.'

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Some traders said they could not attend a Friday evening market in Swaffham because they already attend other markets elsewhere during the day, while others said their support depended on parking spaces being available close to the stalls.

Rob Christie, whose Christie's Cheese stall has attended the Saturday market for 26 years, said: 'I would be willing to give it a go. I think it's a way of presenting the market to people who are not normally here on a Saturday and tempting them back on other days.'

Andy Wood, a barman at the King's Arms in the Market Place, said: 'If they have a Friday evening market, it brought people into the town and it's advertised properly, we have got to support it.'

An extraordinary meeting of the town council's Market Committee has been called to discuss the proposals in the Town Hall at 6pm on Monday June 25. Members of the public are invited.

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