Town market honoured by industry body which previously said it ‘lacked identity’

PUBLISHED: 08:12 01 February 2018 | UPDATED: 08:12 01 February 2018

Judith Thompson, tourist information officer, Dave Pledger, town council operations team, Terry Frostick, operations manager, Chloe Perrin from ‘Brown Bread’ stall, and Luke Matthews, Young Market Person of the Year 2017. Picture: Mark Starte

Judith Thompson, tourist information officer, Dave Pledger, town council operations team, Terry Frostick, operations manager, Chloe Perrin from ‘Brown Bread’ stall, and Luke Matthews, Young Market Person of the Year 2017. Picture: Mark Starte

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Saffron Walden market has been awarded ‘Best Small Outdoor Market’ at the Great British Market Awards 2018 by the same organisation which said the market lacked ‘identity’ and ‘quality of presentation for such a prestige location’.

Saffron Walden Mayor Cllr Richard Freeman, tourist information officer Judith Thompson, and Saffron Walden Town Council operations manager Terry Frostick. Picture: Mark Starte Saffron Walden Mayor Cllr Richard Freeman, tourist information officer Judith Thompson, and Saffron Walden Town Council operations manager Terry Frostick. Picture: Mark Starte

The award ceremony is held annually by the National Association of British Market Authorities (NABMA) and this year was presented by Molly Robbins from Channel 4’s Extreme Cake Makers programme.

The ceremony was held on January 25.

A basic market ‘health check’ was carried out by NABMA in December 2017 at the request of Terry Frostick, the operations manager at Saffron Walden Town Council.

The report was requested to help identify improvements which could be made to the market.

The resulting NABMA report said the market lacked identity and quality of presentation for such a prestige location but praised the traders themselves as one of the unique selling points of the market. It also complimented the diverse range of goods and services on offer.

The experienced market officer who carried out the assessment recommended making all fee payments cashless, creating more space for seating, and providing free WiFi to increase dwell time in the market area.

NABMA also suggested branding the market with its own logo which could be used on the stalls and promotional material but looked at the market’s business plan for 2018-2023 and advised that current staff levels, working practices and market budget are inadequate to meet the needs.

Jacqui Portway, a market trader, said: “We are proud of our market and we appreciate the help of the young people working on the stalls. They’re a tremendous bunch. What makes the market is the continuous support of the local people and visitors to Saffron Walden. I’ve been on this market 34 years and I’ve seen many changes but this market survives no matter what.”

Councillor Richard Freeman, the town’s mayor, said: “The award is testimony to the dedication of the town council staff who look after the market, and the professionalism of the market traders who are very loyal, turning up in all weathers.”

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