MARKET traders in Gainsborough say their trade is suffering and they should have greater protection.
They believe the market, which comes to town on Tuesday and Saturday, holds special privileges which were granted in an historic market charter.
“There is a charter somewhere which says there should not be another market within six and two thirds of a mile of Gainsborough market place,” said Rob Grimes, who runs the sweet stall on Silver Street.
“Yet the monthly farmers’ market has been moved away from the town centre and into Marshall’s Yard, pulling trade away from the main market.”
Mr Grimes, and others in the town, have been unsuccessful in their attempts to uncover the elusive charter.
West Lindsey District Council only holds a copy of a charter from Charles I dated 1637, which grants Gainsborough the right to hold two fairs in October and at Easter.
A spokesman said: “There is no evidence of a specific market charter that states anything about a weekly market or a six mile radius.”
Marcus Crisp, who has the Silver Street card stall, has been trading on Gainsborough Market for 15 years.
“Councils seem to fall into the fatal trap of developing away from town centres and it kills what they have already got,” he said.
“The shop keepers in Gainsborough all say their busiest day is market day. So why not get the farmers’ market back down here on a Saturday and bring more people into town?”
Mr Grimes said the market traders would be putting a representative forward for the Town Centre Partnership.
The partnership, made up of local businesses and organisations, is exploring a variety of initiatives to increase trade in the town centre.
These include better signs, marketing parking facilities, and appearance.
Jackie Helliwell, Centre Manager at Marshall’s Yard said more than £50,000 had been spent to relaunch the farmers’ market at Marshall’s Yard, after producers asked to move there in 2008.
“The investment was made to increase visitor numbers to the town and continues to be a non profit service provided by Marshall’s Yard Limited,” she said.
“Marshall’s Yard is committed to working with Gainsborough Town Centre to increase visitor numbers to the overall area.”