“Use it or lose it” is the message to the public from one of Leighton Buzzard market’s longest-serving traders.
Dave Gibbons runs the card stall on the market, and is one of its representatives at Leighton-Linslade Town Council’s Market Sub-Committee.
He said: “To make our market grow and be successful, we need the residents of Leighton Buzzard to use it.”
Two weeks ago, the town council successfully defended a High Court challenge brought by campaigner Victoria Harvey over its changes to market pitch fees.
In an interview with the LBO, Mr Gibbons said: “First of all, the traders’ representatives would like to thank Victoria Harvey for all of her efforts, and we also thank the residents of Leighton Buzzard who signed her petition.
“Through Victoria’s efforts, certain traders were allowed to continue trading on the south side of the market.”
Mr Gibbons said that traders had also been allowed more stall space than the 9 metres originally granted as a result of Miss Harvey’s work.
He said: “Victoria’s quest was to try and get cheaper rent. The traders’ representatives didn’t feel they were properly consulted and that’s why there was a petition - the traders were saying giving some people 20% discount and others nothing wasn’t really fair.
“Since the relaunch, we’ve had eight permanent traders leave. Traders don’t leave because they are making money and they don’t leave because the rent is cheap.
“If the public don’t use us, then that’s why the market is declining. Traders are not going to stand there if they’re not taking the money.
“We need the residents to use us and then we might get some more traders to come in and start trading. I like the new gazebos and I think certain stalls look a lot better.
“But, the whole idea of this relaunch was to encourage more traders and more people to shop in the high street.”