Getting ready to celebrate 931st year of Leighton Buzzard’s market

Leighton Buzzard Market.
Leighton Buzzard Market.

This Saturday sees the relaunch of the Charter Market in Leighton Buzzard which has been in the town since 1086.

The town council took over the running of the market from Central Beds Council in 2012. Below a council spokesman looks ahead to the relaunch which has been subject to much controversy in recent months...

Historic pictures of the market throughout the ages shows its livestock origins and how it has grown, shrunk, moved around the High Street yet it remains in the heart of our town.

This Saturday, join us as we celebrate the 931st year of market trading in the town, with a mix of brand new market stalls and trader’s own, a revitalised layout and entertainment throughout the day.

The market has everything you need to feed the family. Our cooking demonstrations will show how to use the variety of produce on offer.

Street entertainers, “French Fancies” and the “Fairly Fresh Fish Co” will provide some light hearted jollity as visitors browse the market and buy their weekly shopping. Don’t forget that it is the fourth Saturday of the month which means that joining the general market is the Handmade and Craft Market which will have new look and be situated down the middle row between Pizza Express and Lloyd’s Bank.

The investment in the market’s future is supported with financial support from Central Bedfordshire Council, through its Market Town Regeneration Fund.

Leighton-Linslade Town Council, the market management organisation has match funded the work creating a total of £113,000 investment. This is an investment in traders and the town towards ensuring a market which is relevant for today and the future.

Leighton Buzzard Market has been bravely standing its ground in this new era of online shopping, increasing consumer expectations for electronic payments and convenience ‘open all hours shopping’ as well as cut price shopping high street retailers.

Always doing what we do in the same way is not a recipe to secure the long term future for the market. By undertaking improvements now the town avoids watching a slow decline as traders of longevity retire and no forthcoming plans to continue their trading business and the market fails to entice new traders or customers as it currently presents itself.

The changes we are making to the market are intended to secure its future. We recognise that change will be difficult to some traders but equally recognise that many of our traders welcome change. For many traders there will be a reduction in pitch fee as well as the collective opportunity to use free of charge gazebos and tables should they wish.

Historic agreements for a small number of traders are unfair and this cannot continue. Every effort is being made by the Town Council to support all our loyal traders as we make the transition by offering training, enhanced publicity for the market, dedicated website and new stall equipment where considered necessary and appropriate. For those traders who will be expected to pay the appropriate rent for the space they use in future, the new fee will be introduced gradually.

Since taking over the running of the market in 2012, the Town Council has invested a significant amount of time and effort into understanding the complexities of the market and the challenges it faces.

In conjunction with Central Bedfordshire Council, the National Market Traders Federation and following the advice received by expert consultants, Town Council Officers and Councillors (unpaid volunteers working in the common interests of the parish) have collectively developed the market relaunch programme to help our market survive into the future.

We will of course be closely monitoring the market and where considered appropriate, will continue to make changes.

We hope that you will all continue to support our market. Your shop, our market, see you on the High Street.

> Protest planned for relaunch day...