Calls to get Shropshire's socially distanced outdoor markets open
Outdoor markets in Shropshire must be reopened as soon as possible, a councillor has said.
Preparations for the safe opening of markets were triggered by an announcement on Monday from Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who said outdoor markets will be allowed to reopen in England from June 1.
Shropshire councillor for Ludlow North, Andy Boddington, called for Ludlow Market to be reopened as soon as is permitted.
He said: "Boris Johnson announced that outdoor markets can reopen from Monday.
"By then, Ludlow Market will have been closed for 10 weeks. He has put in place a countdown for the market reopening.
"It must reopen. The market is at the heart of our town centre. Ludlow is not Ludlow without its market. It will not thrive without a thriving market.
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"There must be no further delays in the market reopening. The countdown to reopening outdoor markets has begun. Ludlow Market must reopen next week if our town is to bounce back beyond coronavirus."
Although open air markets will be allowed to open from June 1, it is unlikely they will be fully operational for several weeks as safety guidelines and systems are prepared.
Ludlow Town Council said the layout of its market would have to change to accommodate social distancing and would be discussed at a meeting next week.
It is likely some stallholders will not be able to attend the market with the revised layout.
A spokesman said: "Ludlow Market in its existing layout cannot accommodate safe social distancing and space for queues. Suggestions for alternative layouts have been received from traders, and this is appreciated, and will help to inform the revision process.
"The responsibility for the safe operation of the market rests with the town council.
"Unfortunately, it is unavoidable that changes to the layout will reduce the number of stalls, which means the full number of traders cannot be accommodated, and a fair selection process will need to be established.
"These issues are currently being worked through, and the town council will consider the matter at a full council meeting on Wednesday, June 3."
Councillor Boddington added: "I have seen two plans prepared by traders for reopening Ludlow Market as a socially distanced market. Both have been sent to the town council. After Boris Johnson’s statement, traders’ pleas for trading to restart cannot be ignored.
"A social distanced market in Ludlow will be a new phenomenon. Our market will be different from before. Fewer traders. Longer waits. But we have the space and patience to do this."
Market Drayton's open air market could reopen in the next three weeks according to organiser, Dermot McGillicuddy at LSD Promotions.
He said they already have a plan for reopening but are in discussions with Shropshire Council to ensure it is done safely.
He added that the plans would be focused on signage and social distancing to ensure people are safe.
Ashley Kendrick at Bridgnorth Town Council said there were still a number of issues to resolve before people would see a fully operational market.
She said: "Logistically under the town hall does cause us some areas of concern and we probably won't be a case of June 1 and everyone comes back because it is just not safe.
"We are having a meeting this week to see how we can get as many back as possible but the priority is safety both for the traders and the customers shopping there."
In Bridgnorth there are a number of market pitches along High Street which are not managed by the town or Shropshire Council. Those usually using the pitches will be expected to look to Government guidance themselves.
Meanwhile, Whitchurch Town Council has announced that the town's Friday market will be re-opening to the public from June 5.
The market will be open from 8am to 12 noon on the rear car park of the Civic Centre and for the moment will only be open for essential food stalls.
Mayor of Whitchurch, Councillor Bev Duffy, said: “Whitchurch Town Council is very pleased to welcome back our food traders to the Friday market which can now open for the sale of fresh foods, fruit and vegetables and we look forward to being given the Government go-ahead to reopen more of the market in the near future."