Revised St Albans Charter Market layout is welcomed by traders

St Albans Charter Market traders demonstrated against the council's COVID restrictions.

St Albans Charter Market traders demonstrated against the council's COVID restrictions. - Credit: Archant

St Albans market traders have welcomed revised operating practices in response to their criticism about council COVID restrictions.

Stall holders had hit out at limits on the number of pitches and a fortnightly rota to enforce social distancing, claiming the measures would cripple their busineses and wreck the market.

With queues for market stalls, shops and cafés competing for space at peak times, plus more pedestrians following the relaxation of lockdown, a solution was needed to make the best use of the available space.

District council officers held a meeting with traders to discuss new ideas for the market layout, which was implemented on Saturday with more than 60 stalls in place.

The response to the new layout was overwhelmingly positive from traders we spoke to at today’s market.

One trader who asked not to be named said: “It has got so much better. We now have allocated spaces, the atmosphere is more lively and traders are happier.”

Handbag stall owners Chris and Anita Hardwick said things have turned around in just a week.

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Chris said: “It is a lot better now. People know where they are going. They have done an excellent job responding to emails, emailing maps round to everyone and being visible out and about.”

Fruit and veg trader Tony Govier said: “It seems to be picking up now. It’s more organised with more stalls up.”

Richard Green and Steven Green who have had the menswear stall in the family for the last 60 years said: “It has come back to its vibrancy. Sarah Torrance [Public Realm Manager] from St Albans District Council has been excellent at communicating with us. We all think she has done an amazing job.”

Cllr Mandy McNeill, portfolio holder for business, tourism and culture, said: “All permanent traders have been offered a pitch, though I understand some have declined because of holiday plans. Plus we had some casual traders on High Street.

“We hope residents will continue to support traders and check out all the various nooks and crannies at the market.”