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Help save Wellington market

By Sophie Madden | Wellington | News | Published:

Keep supporting our market.

That is the call from traders in Wellington, who say they are "worried" about the amount of stalls closing and have called for people to keep shopping there in a bid to keep it alive.

It comes after shoppers said they were "concerned" at the closure of many stalls in the market, and said it was "disheartening" to see so many stalls closing.

Sharron Yardley, from Chelsea Flowers, has had her stall for four years, but took it on from the woman who first trained her 30 years ago.

She has worked on various stalls in the market for 13 years and said she has seen it go through many changes in that time.

She said: "Stalls are closing one by one.

"But the main problem is footfall, changes to the buses and problems with car parking mean we don't see as many shoppers.

"We're all worried about the number of shops that are shutting.

"I used to have people that came in, older people, every week to get flowers, but they struggle to get here now it takes longer on the bus.

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"It is a real shame."

Shopper, Susan Robinson, from Leegomery, said she tried to do all of her shopping in Wellington but said she now feels the town and market is going down hill and said stall holders have told her high rents are the reason behind the closure.

But stall holders say rents are not the big problem, the bigger issue is not getting enough people using the market, shopping on the independent stalls and helping to keep it thriving.

Established since 1244, Wellington Market is a fully heated indoor market hall, housing over 120 shopping units. There is also an outdoor market area.

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Wellington Town Council has used a report to outline the problems faced by the town, as well as its advantages and what is to be done to try and boost it in future.

Those behind Wellington Market say they are already doing what they can to try and attract more shoppers.

Esther Worboys, sales and marketing manager, said: "The rents at Wellington Market have only increased twice in ten years, by one to two each time. The rents include all the traders costs and as such provide very good value for money.

"Some traders have recently moved to larger units as they have been trading very well, and others have moved to shops in the town centre which is also a good indication It is important to remember that new stalls take two to three months to become established and for customers to be aware that they are there. The traders who left recently unfortunately did not give themselves enough time to do this.

The big issue is the loss of the buses to the town, which has had a very big impact on footfall, owever, we are doing lots to try to change the situation, including: working with the council to see what they can do about the bus situation, actively searching for new traders, including: hot food, soft furnishings, cobblers, toys and more."

The market has a full marketing and events programme, including another Comicon event on August 12 and the ongoing Artisan Markets

Back in March, the town council said it cannot stand by and "do nothing" about its town centre, and wants to attract more and more shops in, turning it into a popular shopping destination.

About 19 per cent of shops in Wellington are empty, compared to the national average of nine per cent.

It also says it struggles with low tourist numbers, a poor perception of its town centre and a lack of particular retail types.

Businesses have also written to BT calling for better broadband coverage in the town centre.

But Councillor Phil Morris-Jones says it also has its thriving and historic market, good railway access, with a lot of positives to sell itself.

There have been a number of big investments in the town in recent years, including the new bus station and neighbouring highway works, costing a total of £3.5million, the former Arriva Bus depot being acquired by the Wrekin Housing Trust for affordable housing, a new shared spaces area in Market Street to make it better for pedestrians.

Councillor Morris-Jones has also called on the Wellington Market Company to talk to traders more about what can be done to improve the market.

He said: "The footfall is there, people like Telford & Wrekin Council, Shropshire Enterprise and Wellington Town Council are organising lots of successful events every week that are bringing people into Wellington.

"We wouldn't have the problem we have with car parking if the footfall wasn't there."

In June, new parking meters went live in Wellington, which keep parking free, but will ensure there is a limit on how long can be spent in car parks.

Fines will be handed out to drivers who stay for longer than three hours in four of Wellington’s town car parks.

As a result the town council, the town’s market traders, the Wellington Chamber of Commerce and Telford & Wrekin Council have formed a partnership to come up with solutions to tackle the problem.

The new partnership hopes to make sure it can get more cars in and out of the spaces during the day, providing more capacity and increasing the vitality and viability of Wellington’s town centre businesses and market.

Sophie Madden

By Sophie Madden
@SMadden_Star

Senior reporter based out of the head office in Ketley covering the Telford area.

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