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Ashford Borough Council considers moving town centre market

A council says it is “seriously considering” relocating a town centre market in Ashford following a meeting with traders.

Stallholders met with Ashford Borough Council last week to discuss moving the market to the upper end of the high street.

The market moved to Ashford's Lower High Street in 2008
The market moved to Ashford's Lower High Street in 2008

It came after traders told KentOnline last month how the market could close for good if a request to move is refused as they are struggling to earn a living in their current position.

Despite strong objections, traders were forced to move their stalls to the Lower High Street in 2008 - shortly after the opening of the County Square extension.

At the time, Debenhams reportedly wanted the top of end of the town cleared of stalls to make the entrance of County Square more attractive.

But now, the market - which sells products including clothes, CDs and fruit - is looking to move back as Debenhams plans to ditch the town in 2020, leaving its huge three-storey shop empty.

In September, ABC advised market spokesman Peter Rosson to improve the appearance of stalls and promote the market on social media in order to increase profits.

But after KentOnline published its story, the council agreed to meet with traders for a second time as the stallholders dissatisfied with the authority’s initial response.

About 10 traders attended the council meeting last week, which was chaired by Cllr Paul Clokie (Con), portfolio holder for regeneration and corporate property.

Mr Rosson, of James Street, said the meeting was “positive”.

“We put forward our proposals and it [the council] is going away to talk about them,” he said.

“We have had a good discussion - it was quite positive.

Cllr Paul Clokie met with traders last week (22020287)
Cllr Paul Clokie met with traders last week (22020287)

“Ten stallholders attended and all the market traders that could get there were there.

“We also discussed taking away the bollards and cobbles on the Lower High Street.

“They took on board what they had to say, as they did with us.

“We left the meeting pretty sure that everything we wanted to say was put to the councillor.

“The market will be looked at now and we are expecting a decision after Christmas.”

Dave Kekewich has been at the market for more than 20 years. Picture: Paul Amos
Dave Kekewich has been at the market for more than 20 years. Picture: Paul Amos

A council spokeswoman said the authority, which initially moved the stalls to the Lower High Street in 2008 for a one-year trial period, is continuing to work with traders.

“We are seriously considering the views expressed by the market stall holders,” she said.

“We have a significant amount of things to consider and will continue to work with the market traders.”

Elsewhere in the town, Ashford Designer Outlet officially opened earlier this month, but many of the stores stand empty.

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