Town council takes full control of markets

Cllr Ian Knighton, NHDC Portfolio Holder for Leisure shaking hands with Cllr F John Smith of Royston

Cllr Ian Knighton, NHDC Portfolio Holder for Leisure shaking hands with Cllr F John Smith of Royston Town Council, pictured with (l to r) John Robinson - NHDC Strategic Director Customer Services, Vaughan Watson - NHDC Head of Leisure and Environmental Services, Susan Thornton-Bjork - Royston Town Council Clerk, Steve Barrett - Royston Market Manager, Steve Crowley - NHDC Contracts and Projects Manager - Credit: Archant

ROYSTON Town Council has taken full control of the town’s market.

As revealed in The Crow earlier this year, the town council, which had been operating the market on behalf of North Herts District Council, has now been given full responsibility for the twice-weekly market in a move that will save the district council £38,000 per year.

The move was approved by the district council’s cabinet in April, and an official handover took place last week.

Cllr F John Smith, Leader of Royston Town Council, said: “I am confident that the market will prosper under these new arrangements and that the process of bringing home to Royston assets to be run by the town council will continue to benefit our town.”

And Royston’s mayor, Cllr Bob Smith, said: “Royston Town Council is delighted to take over the running of the markets and that this demonstrates how important the council believes the markets are to the well being of Royston.”

The market and car park had been making a loss of £38,000 per year, with the majority of this money – £35,800 – going to the town council as agent’s fees.

Cllr Ian Knighton, North Herts District Council’s Portfolio Holder for Leisure, said: “The market has been at the heart of Royston’s economy for centuries and this is a historic agreement for the town.

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“Royston Town Council and the traders themselves have ably demonstrated that they are well placed to give the market the direction it needs to prosper in the years ahead. We wish them every success in the future for the benefit of people in Royston and beyond.”

The town council appointed a new market manager, Steve Barratt, last year, and are planning several initiatives to try and boost the number of stalls on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Recent years have seen the number of traders dwindle.

As part of the deal, the town council will receive revenue generated by the car park throughout the week, with the district council still responsible for enforcement of parking rules and setting car parking charges.

Cllr Bob Smith said that because of this, the council expects the market to run at “almost break-even” from day one.