Evaluation of the Morpeth Friday market trial:
NCC reported that the logistics of running a Friday market worked OK and the costs were pretty well covered by rents received – so it is practicable. Meter records show that the car parks in Morpeth were 87% full at peak occupancy over the market Fridays, though this excludes season ticket and permit holder who do not use the meters.
The response to the NCC surveys was disappointing with only six shopkeepers and seven members of the public responding: the shopkeepers were 3 to 2 against the market, with one uncertain, the public were 6 to 1 in favour of the Friday market.
The market traders had a petition of over 200 market customers in favour of the Friday market, and a survey of shopkeepers with 87 returns, showing 80 in favour and 7 against.
The Chamber of Trade’s own survey had 26 responses with 6 for, 18 against and 2 undecided. There is obviously a mismatch between the shopkeepers surveys carried out between the market traders and the Chamber of Trade.
Terry Garnick for NCC concluded that another trial was needed, since there is little firm evidence on the impact of the market on Morpeth, and there was a poor response to the impartial NCC organised survey. However, with the opening of the Sanderson Arcade and in the run-up to Christmas, there were too many extraneous factors to make a fair assessment. He therefore proposed to suspend the Friday market for the present and run a second trial Friday market in February, with the intention of making that permanent if the assessment then was positive. He would also bring in advice from NCC Regeneration team to ensure a proper assessment is carried out. However, he pointed out that he would need clearance from councillors to go ahead with this proposal.