Market ‘will take time to thrive’

The new Hartlepool outdoor market. Picture by FRANK REID. IRN
The new Hartlepool outdoor market. Picture by FRANK REID. IRN

A SENIOR councillor has defended the work done to promote an outdoor market after residents gave shopping in Hartlepool the thumbs down in a recent survey.

Viewpoint is one of the ways that Hartlepool Borough Council consults with people in town by asking a panel of members their views on a range of topics at regular intervals throughout the year.

The latest survey focused on shopping and the results revealed that the majority of Viewpoint members (93 per cent) said they rarely or never shop at the monthly farmers’ market, while 90 per cent rarely or never shop at the outdoor market, which is held every Thursday in an open-air car park off York Road.

The survey also showed that residents were not impressed with the range of shops on offer in the town centre area.

Labour councillor Jonathan Brash, Hartlepool Borough Council’s portfolio holder for performance, discussed the survey at a recent meeting.

Coun Brash said: “A lot of work has been going on in the past year to promote the market and we have to keep pushing that as best we can.

“The economic and regeneration team at the council, along with portfolio holder Pamela Hargreaves, have done an awful lot of work.

“The market is growing, not shrinking, which it was in danger of doing at one stage.

“It is very vibrant and people will get the message and use it as long as it does remain vibrant. Sometimes that can take time.”

Peter Turner, the council’s performance and consultation manager, said there had been a lot of improvements recently to the town centre car parks and he welcomed the announcement this week that bosses at Middleton Grange Shopping Centre are set to spend £500,000 on a revamp in a bid to bring in new businesses.

Mr Turner said: “There are a lot of things happening to support shopping in the town centre.”

Viewpoint members agreed that the town centre was generally clean and tidy (67 per cent), and that it was usually easy to find a car parking space (67 per cent).

Coun Brash added: “We have been through, and continue to go through, a very difficult economic period but there are green shoots of recovery and as a council we are doing everything we can.”

The survey also found that members were more likely to visit other shopping areas in Middlesbrough or Teesside Park because of their good range of shops.

The latest Viewpoint survey was sent out last December to all active panel members which totalled 1,423 people, and there was a response rate of 70 per cent.