Wales politics

Campaigners urge Pembrokeshire council not to close historic markets

Campaigners have urged a cash-strapped council not to shut four historic town centre markets to save money.

Pembrokeshire council will review the future of markets in Haverfordwest, Fishguard, Pembroke Dock and Tenby.

Options include selling them to a private operator or closing them altogether.

Local government spending across Wales will fall from £4.65bn to £4.47bn in 2014-15, a cash cut of 3.9%, forcing councils to cut back on spending.

Stallholders in Fishguard, where the market is held once a week, told BBC's Sunday Politics Wales programme the town would suffer if it disappeared.

Darren Randall, who has worked as a butcher on Fishguard market for 26 years, said: "I think it's going to be a travesty, not just the for the business but for the town to lose the market.

'Markets struggling'

"There are a lot of people who have been here for over 20 years and have grown to know everybody who comes in week in week out, so personally I think it would be a travesty for myself and the town in general.

"Every customer who comes to us is saying how quiet the town is. The busiest day of the week is Thursday when the market is open - if the market wasn't here they might not come into town at all."

Andy Lever, from the Federation of Market Traders, said town centres were generally struggling to keep going and attract people.

"A market is a footfall generator - go to most towns that have a market, they will say the biggest day of the week is the market day," he said.

Leader of the Welsh Conservatives Andrew RT Davies said councils could do more to encourage people to shop locally.

He said: "There needs to be greater access to free car parking; there needs to be a town centre manager; there needs to be a focus on business rates to help small businesses.

"Above all, we need a 24-hour culture on the high street - it's not just about the retail experience, it's about the dining out experience, meeting with your friends.

"The high street is changing, we're not trying to go back to the 50s, but you have money in your pocket and you can choose as a customer how you spend it."

Pembrokeshire council said it had started a review of the potential options for the four markets it owns.

"The review is looking at a variety of options for the markets," said a spokeswoman.

"Consultative meetings have already started with various groups and organisations which are connected to the markets. The county council is meeting with organisations in Fishguard this week and in Tenby next week.

"We are looking to bring an update report to the cabinet meeting at Pembrokeshire County Council in February."

Sunday Politics Wales is on BBC One Wales at 11:00 GMT on Sunday.

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