Does St Albans Charter Market need to make a profit?

How the Charter Market might look in the future by Sarah Gillow.

How the Charter Market might look in the future by Sarah Gillow. - Credit: SADC

Should St Albans' iconic Charter Market be redesignated as a non-profit making civic function?

That was one of the questions mooted at a meeting of the district's community, environment and sport scrutiny committee, which was looking at plans to create a gazebo market to replace the long-standing stalls.

Although this has worked during the pandemic as a means of allowing social distancing, the committee was less supportive of it becoming a permanent move.

Chairman Cllr Annie Brewster told the meeting a public consultation on the plans did not include an option to keep the existing stalls, and instead focused on the colour of the gazebos.

She said councillors need to decide if the market is a civic function of the city, so not making a profit or not breaking even is not essential to its survival.

Cllr Brewster said the Cathedral costs thousands a day to run and the council subsidises the museum service over a million pounds a year, so is there any way of funding the market in a similar fashion?

St Albans Charter Market.

How St Albans Charter Market looked before the pandemic. - Credit: SADC

She argued that whether the council opts to retain the existing market stalls or replace them with heavy-duty gazebos, then staff need to be employed to erect them properly and safely, rather than leave this up to the traders.

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In addition to looking at different models of funding to be explored for the operation of the Charter Market, Cllr Brewster said: “The committee recognises that the 1533 Charter Market is a jewel in our crown and was seen as a ‘service’ to the city rather than a cost, adding value to the district by way of reputation, visitor economy, shops, restaurants and car parks.” 

She went on to make the recommendation that “a formal policy be developed for the Charter Market to identify its purpose and clearly link its operation to the council’s overall priorities” and further proposed that the council keeps the ability to erect, dismantle, store, and not dispose of its 150 traditional market stalls until a final agreement has occurred in the summer.

The committee unanimously agreed all the proposals.

Anyone wishing to view the webcast of the meeting may find it at: