Town council to take over running of Royston market

Daniel Charter serves Margaret Pearson at Royston market

Daniel Charter serves Margaret Pearson at Royston market - Credit: Archant

ROYSTON Town Council is set to take over the running of Royston market, which is currently costing taxpayers £38,000 per year.

At present the town council operates the market as an agent of North Herts District Council, but will take full responsibility for it and the car park on Market Hill, in August, subject to approval from the district council.

A report to the district council’s cabinet, which meets on Tuesday, reveals that the market and car park have been making a loss of £38,000 per year, with the majority of this money – £35,800 – going to the town council as payment for operating the market.

When all costs are taken into consideration, the change is set to save the district council £42,000 per year.

Cllr Bob Smith, leader of Royston Town Council and chairman of its finance committee, said: “Our contract with the district council expires in July, and we have offered to take over the whole thing. Obviously it’s a cost saving for the district council more than anything else, and it gives us total control of all the charter markets in the town.

“It’s an indication of the confidence that Royston Town Council has in the market.”

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.

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Cllr Smith said: “With the additional revenue we are receiving, we are confident it will run at almost break-even from day one.

“You’d have to have blinkers on not to appreciate that the market has been in decline lately despite many people’s best efforts, and we’re confident we can turn it around. Though I can’t say too much at this stage, we have various plans in mind to help improve the market.”

Royston market takes place every Wednesday and Saturday in Market Hill, and the number of stalls has dwindled in recent months.

Cllr Ian Knighton, the district council’s portfolio holder for leisure and the environment, said: “Following discussions with Royston Town Council it was agreed that to protect the long term sustainability of Royston market, and to reduce the district council’s costs, consideration should be given to the town council taking over the market rights and lease, which includes car parking, with the landowners.

“Arrangements are now being put in place for this transition.”

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