Stallholders ‘over the moon’ after popular market wins a reprieve

The rebranded ‘Independent Tunbridge Wells Farmers’ Market’ has been allocated a spot on Market Square, just outside Royal Victoria Place.

The news comes at just the right time for stallholders, who held their final market on Civic Way last weekend.

The bi-weekly event, which has sold fruit, vegetables, meat, fish and a range of other local produce for the last 20 years on the site, had to be cancelled due to building work at the top of the town, including the semi-pedestrianisation of Mount Pleasant Road, which began on Monday.

At the time, the 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 it start again.

Thanks to discussions involving Lib Dem and Conservative councillors along with management at Royal Victoria Place, a solution has been found, and the market is set to return on March 9.

Cllr Mark Ellis, who represents St John’s ward for the Liberal Democrats, said: “I’m pleased to announce that the Farmers Market has now found a temporary home at Market Square.

“Although the council could have moved earlier on this, I’m happy that a solution has been found. Great to work cross party.

“We strongly support markets as this is a low cost way of attracting footfall into our commercial district and provides something distinctive in the centre of our town. Once a permanent site has been arranged, we would love to see the market expanded into a town feature.”

Tracy Moore, the Council’s Economic Development & Communication portfolio holder, added: “I am very excited for the next chapter in the farmers’ market story in Tunbridge Wells.

“We now have an independent market ready to start trading in Market Square on the second and fourth Saturdays of the month from 9am until 4pm and the Council will do all it can to support the traders by promoting the venture through its communications channels.

“I hope lots of shoppers, old and new supporters of the market, will be there to make this great initiative a success.”

It has not yet been established how long the market will be able to remain in Market Square, but stallholders are hoping to get a more permanent location on the precinct.

Paul Saxby, who runs Arcade Fisheries, said: “We are over the moon, really pleased. RVP have been really great in giving us a home. We don’t know exactly how long we are there for, but it should be at least five months.”

Following the news that market was set to close, which featured on Times’ front page in December, market traders have been inundated with local support.

“It has been overwhelming. I think that is the biggest reason the market has been saved,” claimed Mr Saxby.

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