King's Lynn and Hunstanton free pitches boost markets

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media captionOpen-air markets in west Norfolk see a boost in shoppers as new traders take advantage of free pitches initiative

Two open-air markets in west Norfolk have seen stall numbers triple as part of a campaign to offer free pitches to new traders.

The council scheme to boost King's Lynn and Hunstanton markets came after figures showed a decline in trade of up to 15% over the past year.

Thirty new traders have taken advantage of the free pitches at the two markets.

Puppeteer Sarah Addison, one of the new traders, said the market had provided an immediate boost to her business.

"This experience has seriously let me consider the market as a way of generating income," she said.

'Busier than normal'

image caption"I wasn't so sure about getting up at 5:30," said first-time trader Sarah Addison

The Test The Market initiative, running until Sunday, is an attempt by King's Lynn and West Norfolk Borough Council to regenerate the markets as a shopping destination and a new source of income for local businesses.

The initiative follows retail guru Mary Portas' recommendations, as part of her High Street review, to better promote indoor or outdoor markets.

The council is planning to spend £700,000 to pedestrianise roads around the market next year.

Council spokesman Chris Bamfield said: "We're trying to attract new people to have a go at trying a market stall and bring more footfall into this area."

After the free market's first day of trading on Tuesday, council leader Nick Daubney said: "It's certainly busier than normal and if we can keep the momentum going perhaps we're on to something of a winner."

Ms Addison, from Discovering Workshops, in Terrington St Clement, added: "I'd do it again, but I wasn't so sure at getting up a 5:30 - I didn't realise there were two of those in a day."

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