Is time running out for Melton’s Friday Farmers’ Market?

The Farmers' Market at Melton Cattle Market.'' EMN-141108-174129001
The Farmers' Market at Melton Cattle Market.'' EMN-141108-174129001
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Action is under way to save Melton’s Farmers’ Market, which was one of the first to open in the UK nearly 19 years ago.

Traders have been told the Friday Farmers’ Market is making a loss and may have to leave its home at Melton Cattle Market.

Prince Charles visiting Melton's Farmers' Market in 2000 accompanied by Matthew O'Callaghan.'' ENGEMN00120121014100748

Prince Charles visiting Melton's Farmers' Market in 2000 accompanied by Matthew O'Callaghan.'' ENGEMN00120121014100748

Mark Wicks, head of operations and compliance at Gillstream Markets, which operates the Cattle Market, said: “The Friday Farmers’ Market has been here for many years, with little or no change over that period.

“The rental prices were set at a promotional level to allow for it to establish itself and grow, but despite repeated attempts to promote such growth, it has remained small and loss making.

“We decided we could no longer afford to subsidise the stalls element of the market, where setting up, taking down, cleaning and collecting rent has never covered the costs. Unit holders remain free to open.”

Traders had been told the Friday Farmers’ Market would close on November 30.

Mr Wicks said: “There is never an appropriate time to make announcements like this; especially with Christmas next month and we are hopeful we may have a solution to this.

“Since our announcement, we have received offers from friends of the Market to run the Friday Market on our behalf and so remove some of our costs.

“We are in the early stages of this process, but I am hopeful that we can find a solution that will allow the food businesses to enjoy their Christmas period and potentially beyond.”

Mr Wicks added: “We are planning to focus our efforts on our existing Sunday Market and hopefully expand this into Saturdays so that we have a full offering over the weekend, when there are more customers to address.

“We hope that we will be able to expand back into Friday stalls and the rest of the week off the back of this in due course.”

Melton food champion Matthew O’Callaghan said: “I established the Farmers’ Market in 1999 as one of the few farmers’ markets in the UK at the time.

“It was so unusual that Prince Charles came to visit in 2000 and I showed him round.

“It was always my intention that it should move to the town centre where I thought it would get better passing trade.

“However a grant was secured later to redevelop the Tavern and install units into the Farmers’ Market and so it remained where it was.

Mr O’Callaghan added: “I’ve talked to the Town Estate and they’d be happy to accommodate the Farmers Market perhaps in the run up to Christmas as part of a Producers Christmas Market to be held every Friday and then to continue thereafter.”