Market traders respond to ‘demolition’ idea

Wendy Taylor at Sidmouth Market

Wendy Taylor at Sidmouth Market - Credit: Archant

Business owners at Sidmouth’s well-used market building have questioned the ‘bizarre’ comments of a town councillor – who is calling for its demolition.

Councillor John Rayson said the premises could be replaced with a performing arts space, with a pannier market opened at a touted park and ride facility in Woolbrook.

But the market’s occupants say they provide a valuable service in the town and have asked where his suggestions for the market building came from.

Wendy Taylor, who has owned the fishmongers for 35 years, said: “There are so many people that come into the town and say ‘Aren’t you lucky. I wish we had this’.”

“One or two customers have been quite upset at what he said. We’ve got a good local trade, but it doesn’t do our business any good.

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“To move out of town wouldn’t be viable for us.”

Greengrocer Judith Taylor said: “Does he think it’s not used? Most of our customers wouldn’t be able to get to us if we moved.

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“I think we provide a good service to the people of the town.

“People stop and chat – we know about people’s families and about their lives.

“It would be sad for Sidmouth to lose that.”

She added that Market Place is unsuitable for a Sunday market, saying: “Why do people think they could set up a market there? It’s a road, and it’s still a road on a Sunday. We have trouble even loading stuff. Nobody has approached us about it.”

Responding to their concerns, Cllr Rayson said his criticisms were not of the tenants, but he stuck by his comments that better use could be made of the ‘very valuable’ space.

“If the existing building was demolished and underground toilets built, the area could become an important and well-used area for performing arts,” he said.

“It would extend the season for the type of performances we see during FolkWeek, make a good venue for local bands to perform in public, be useful for community events such as carol services, could be used for art exhibitions and would be large enough for a proper Christmas market.”

Cllr Rayson disagreed that the businesses would lose customers if they moved to a ‘proper constructed market building’ in Woolbrook. He said ample parking and a frequent bus service could attract shoppers from across the South West.

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