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Bradford
Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Darlington’s outdoor markets are in danger of being overtaken by others in the Tees Valley, the council has been warned.

Success of other markets in Tees Valley praised

The success of Stockton Market was praised at a Darlington Borough Council meeting on Thursday, with the council asked how it plans to make the town centre events more attractive to traders and customers.

Former Liberal Democrat councillor Nigel Boddy said the neighbouring Tees Valley town currently benefits from two-hour free parking and cheap rates for stall holders.

Mr Boddy said: “The two-hour free parking in Stockton might have had something to do with the success of this market. The stalls cost just £25 and the first four weeks are free as an introductory offer.

“If Darlington is unable to match these trading conditions I see little prospect of Darlington’s markets continuing.”

Darlington Borough Council scrapped a similar free parking scheme last year due to budget pressures. But the local authority said its stall rates are competitive and it continues to attract new traders into the town.

Mr Boddy, who represented the North Road ward, stood as a candidate in the Durham Police and Crime Commissioner election in May. He recalled how the once-thriving market stalls had declined in recent years and told how former Darlington business Skinnergate Cycles had relocated to Stockton.

Mr Boddy added: “What approaches (if any) have been made by Darlington’s Economic Development Officer to stall holders on Stockton Market and to Skinnergate Cycles to ask about trading conditions in Darlington?

“Specifically, have they been asked what might induce the stallholders of Stockton Market to trade here? What might induce retailers, who once traded here, to trade here again?”

Deputy council leader Chris McEwan said it costs £22 per stall in Darlington which is “competitive with other local markets”.

The cabinet member for economy added: “To attract new traders, various marketing activities are carried out on a regular basis. We mustn’t lose sight of the fact that our vacancy rate of around 12 per cent is below the regional and national level.

“However, we must never be complacent on these issues. While there’s more we can do, I will continue to talk to retailers and other partners on this issue about encouraging more retail presence on our high street and in our town centre.”

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