Following a committee vote on June 10th, Leighton-Linslade Town Council has recently announced its intention to make a number of key changes to our town market. Most notably these include the relocation of all existing market stalls to the north side of the High Street, and the shrinking of various stalls to fit the new allocation.
Consumer shopping habits are changing rapidly. In an age when almost any product is available for cheap and convenient delivery from an online vendor, both the traditional charter market and small town-centre shops are becoming an endangered species. So we must, and do, recognise that these must continue to adapt to the marketplace as it changes around them, in order to stay in business.
However, the Town Council’s approach to revitalising our market seems to work at cross purposes. We believe the council when they say they wish to see our historic market perform better; that goal is shared by all concerned. But the council proposes to uproot small businesspeople from market stalls that they and their families have held, in some cases, for decades. They will force traders in the same field, such as greengrocers, to directly compete with each other cheek by jowl. And they will require grocers, butchers and fishmongers to store and sell their wares in constant sunlight in the hottest hours of the day.
All of this incurs needless extra business expense, on top of recent increases in small business rates. It puts our market's future at risk, and with it the readily available and affordable local produce upon which many local people rely. And, in reducing the size of the market and thus the customer footfall it attracts, it threatens a key revenue stream that many of our High Street shops depend on to survive.
We believe that these proposals amount to an ill-advised attempt at gentrification, harming our local community and a fundamental part of our town's heritage. We strongly urge Leighton-Linslade Town Council to reconsider the matter.