Market plans get backing

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INNOVATIVE plans to hold specialist markets aimed at breathing new life into Hartlepool’s town centre have been agreed.

Hartlepool Borough Council has agreed plans to use money from the government’s High Street Innovation Fund to stage three main events –including a Christmas market – over the next 12 months.

Hartlepool was awarded the £100,000 boost as part of TV celebrity Mary Portas’s bid to revamp the country’s high streets and officers hope the events will encourage between 8,000 to 10,000 people into the centre of Hartlepool.

The events, at a total cost of £60,000, will be held in Church Square and include:

l Between Thursday, June 6 to Saturday, June 8 there will be high quality crafters selling unique products and a series of craft demonstrations and workshops alongside theatre, poetry and storytelling.

It will be linked to Cleveland College of Art and Design’s degree show and an exhibition at Hartlepool Art Gallery.

l Street Revolution North East, will take place between Thursday, September 12 to Saturday, September 14. Officers say the event will be a mixture of both street art and street food and Church Square will be filled with stalls.

l Finally between Wednesday, December 4 and Saturday, December 7 there will be a Christmas market offering quality festive gifts and live events including outdoor panto, storytellers and performers.

Anthony Steinberg, the council’s economic development manager presented the plans, which were backed by Mayor Stuart Drummond at his regeneration and neighbourhoods portfolio.

Mayor Drummond said: “There is a perception that the money will solve the problem of empty shops, it won’t.

“It is only to come up with new ways to get people in to the town centre, who otherwise would not, and we are doing what we can.”

Portas, a retail advisor and TV presenter, was approached by the Government to help rejuvenate the country’s retail sector.

The council intends to use some of the funding to buy wooden cabins which officers say will offer traders a “safe and secure” environment and they could be used in similar events beyond 2013.