Battle Farmers’ Market could be under threat

15/6/13- Traders Avril Barrow and John Stratton at Battle Market.
15/6/13- Traders Avril Barrow and John Stratton at Battle Market.

LAST Saturday’s Battle Farmers’ Market could be the last one, unless new stallholders come forward.

Richard Gray, who helps put the stalls up at the monthly market, says dwindling stall numbers could signal the end of the event.

The market was relaunched in 2010, with 19 stalls taking their place on the Abbey Green.

But numbers have fallen over the last 18 months, with seven stalls at the June event and just five for the May market.

And if the take up for the July market is poor, the event may not go ahead.

Richard said: “It’s been a downward spiral really.

“People have not been spending money and stall holders cannot afford to give up a Saturday morning for virtually nothing.

“And no younger generations are coming through who want to take up producing their own things, selling their own pictures and paintings and that kind of thing.”

Richard, who lives in Broad Oak, Brede, says that other factors have played a part.

He said: “The weather has played a huge part in it.

“Last year almost everytime we pitched up, apart from January and February, it was raining.

“The footfall in previous years has been fantastic, but it has really dropped off in the last 18 months.

“And a lot of people have said the parking fees are too expensive.”

He added: “We kept the numbers up all through 2010 and 2011, but 2012 was virtually a complete wash out and so far things have not got better in 2013.”

There are a number of food stalls, selling produce including cakes, preserves, fruit, vegetables and game, but there is currently a lack of craft stalls.

Richard said: “We would like to hear from people who would like to sell crafts such as jewellery, knitting, painting, drawings and that kind of thing, along with food.

“We will be able to do a deal with new people coming along.”

He added: “The market is in a prime location.

“There’s the mother of all history nearby and we are sitting nicely in the middle there.

“I want to keep it going.

“I will do everything I possibly can.”

Alan Deeprose, president of the Battle and District Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber’s High Street Group had discussed ways of helping to keep the market going.

He said: “It is something we want to encourage because I do think it will have a knock on effect on traders.

“After all, we are a market town and we should try to ensure we have a market of some sort.

“I would like to see it continue.”

Anyone who would like to find out more about taking on a stall at the Battle Farmers’ Market should contact Richard Gray on 07973671335.

Discounts on pitches are available for new stallholders.