Crawley market traders seek move to boost trade

Market stall (generic)
Image caption Crawley's market includes fruit and vegetables, fish, meat and clothing stalls

Stallholders at an 800-year-old market in West Sussex say they fear for their future because shoppers have moved on.

Crawley market was granted a licence by King John in 1202 and operates on Fridays and Saturdays in High Street.

Traders want to move to nearby Queens Square, where the market is based on Wednesdays, because that is now the town's main retail area.

Crawley Borough Council said it wanted to develop parades, bands and community events in Queens Square instead.

'Side street'

"There's a recession and a lot of competition, but mostly the problem is that the emphasis of the town has shifted," fruit and vegetable seller Rodney Reed said.

"The high street has become a side street.

"It is just full of pubs, restaurants and estate agents. It is an evening sort of place, not a daytime place.

"I am very concerned for the future. We are getting older, working harder and earning less."

'Don't take money'

Market manager Ken Reading said the market needed to be where there were shoppers.

"If carries on like this and traders don't take money then they are not going to stay," he said.

The council's town centre manager Alfredo Mendes said there was demand for space in and around Queens Square from a wide range of commercial and community groups.

"We need to manage that demand to try and continue to offer visitors to Crawley more than just a good shopping experience," he said.

"A regular market on the square would limit the potential development of these alternatives.

"This is a good market and it has a lot to offer. The main thing is people just don't know how good it is."

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