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Plan to bring market back to Darlaston town centre

Walsall | News | Published:

Darlaston Market could be relaunched in a bid to draw more shoppers and traders into the town centre, it has emerged.

The Darlaston Town Centre Partnership is looking to bring stalls back to the town as part of long-term plans to breathe new life into the area.

The previous Walsall Council-run market was scrapped in 2011 in a bid to save the cash-strapped local authority up to £60,000 over three years.

The 40-year-old market had been held in King Street and High Street every Friday and Saturday, until it fell victim to the axe under cuts.

There are currently no firm plans in place, but the group driving regeneration of the area have said it is a main aim to get stalls to return.

Stuart Chapman, chairman of Darlaston Town Centre Partnership, said: "One of our main aspirations is to bring a market back to the town breathing new life into the town centre to benefit both existing traders and customers whilst making it an attractive propositon for new people to invest in."

Darlaston councillor Paul Bott said: "I would welcome the market back 100 per cent, it should never have gone anyway.

"It gave people a choice, they hadn't got to shop at Asda, they had an alternative.

"It was a focal point for the town. It is probably going to have to be private, but whether it is public or private it is creating jobs and giving people choice."

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It comes as Darlaston has received a jobs boost with more positions having been created over the last year, according to latest figures.

Jobs have risen from 708 to 916 – an increase of 136. Among those who have set up business in the town are Scorpions Gym while Price Wise have doubled the size of their retail unit.

This has also signficantly reduced the number of empty units.

Regeneration bosses said last week that fees for traders on council-run pitches will not rise during the next financial year.

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The aim is to help traders operating at the three outdoor markets in Bloxwich, Willenhall, and the main one in the town centre.

As part of its ongoing commitment to the markets, Walsall Council is currently carrying out a public consultation on proposals for a new, permanent location for the 800 year-old town centre event. A public exhibition of the preferred location and design layout of the market will be put on display in the foyer at The New Art Gallery Walsall between March 21 and 22.

Figures released last year showed income from council-run markets in Walsall had slumped by more than £80,000 a year.

A total of £763,428 was raised in the 12 months to the end of last March, compared with £848,416 the previous year.

The market in Walsall town centre made a profit of more than £250,000, helping to cover losses of £22,000 at Willenhall.

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