The Ashbourne News Telegraph front page headline this week was “Privatisation Plan for town’s market” and it outlined a suggestion from local landlord Mick Gallimore to use some of his land to host the Ashbourne Thursday and Saturday markets. The finance arrangements around this were unclear but Mr Gallimore seems keen to save the market and has Ashbourne’s interests at heart. Councillor Alan Hodkinson was quoted in Natalie Wakefield’s excellent piece of reporting saying that it sounded like a good plan and would release the Market Place for more car parking.
There were some statements in the article that I disagree with:
- Ashbourne Market is not failing. The Thursday market is struggling badly but the Saturday market is an attractive asset to the town
- The finances of the Ashbourne market are not clear. The DDDC statement said that the running costs of the market are in excess of a staggering £70,000. Only a tiny proportion of this is to do with putting up the stalls themselves – there has been no explanation of what the rest is. Privatisation is a good idea for anyone looking to reduce DDDC’s costs and run a profitable business.
- The suggested location is not a perfect location for a market – a perfect location for a market is a market square.
However, I think that I have a perfect solution which would satisfy Councillor Hodkinson, Mick Gallimore, the traders and DDDC.
The DDDC council meeting said that the Ashbourne markets could not be touched for another 12 months but some people think we have a pressing problem for parking in the town. Mr Gallimore could concrete over the area he has in mind (which apparently is considerably larger than the footprint of the current market) and run it as a car park. This would offer more parking than the Market Square could offer, provide a benefit to Ashbourne 7 days a week with no impact on the market. As a further benefit the site could still be used for all the farmers, antique and craft markets as this is completely separate from the DDDC jurisdiction.
As a further comment, when I drive into Ashbourne I always find a parking space and I never use the Shaw Croft car park because its a bad design in my opinion. It’s easy to get into, but hard to get out of. What about opening up a second entrance into Compton and using the area between Waitrose and the new library?