Farmers’ market stallholders hold ‘productive meeting’ about future

It was announced in December that Tunbridge Wells Farmers’ Market was to close after 20 years of trading at the Civic Way site due to building work in the town centre, with no indication of it ever reopening.

At the time, Tunbridge Wells Borough Council said there was ‘no suitable alternative site’ for the market, leaving the 25 or so traders out in the cold with little or no prospect of seeing the event start up again, at least not until construction work finishes.

The developments that forced the market’s closure include the semi-pedestrianisation of Mount Pleasant Road, not due for completion until the summer of this year, and the new £13million Amelia Scott culture hub – which won’t be finished until 2021.

Now in another twist, traders from the market met council officials last week, and the market, which has been supplying local people with produce since 1999, may not be doomed after all.

“It was a really productive meeting,” said Paul Saxby from Arcade Fisheries at the market.

“We have come away with some options. I think we have come away knowing in our heart of hearts that there is still going to be market for the people of Tunbridge Wells and the surrounding areas.”

Councillor Tracy Moore, who met with the market representatives said: “I explained to stall holders our interests are aligned.

“Having responsibility for economic growth for Tunbridge Wells I absolutely recognise that we need to drive footfall to the town centre and that events like a farmers market and music events help brings people to the town centre and that’s what we want.”

Despite the productive meeting, no new locations have yet been put forth.

The meeting came a week after one trader, Naked and Ready Foods, launched a petition to get the market installed back in the town.

The town’s other outdoor market, held at the Pantiles, has ruled out doing alternate weekends to accommodate traders from the top of the town.

Organiser and Managing Director of the Tunbridge Wells Hotel, Julian Leefe-Griffiths, said: “It is a great shame that the market at the top of the town has ceased trading. We would definitely like to help out those traders.

“But going to one week would be difficult. There is a large cost to putting on the market that we have to bear, but also we have lots of events on in the summer that we couldn’t put on if there was a market there every week.”

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