Keswick’s Thursday and Saturday markets will not be held until the town’s non-essential shops are able to re-open on Monday 15th June.
That is the assurance given today by Allerdale Borough Council, the market’s new operator, says Keswick mayor Cllr Paul Titley.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson had announced on Monday that open-air markets in England could resume trading from Monday 1st June, which would have allowed Keswick’s to return next week from Thursday 4th June.
However, several Keswick councillors had already expressed concern at their meeting the previous Thursday that local shops, most of which have had to stay closed since March, would lose out further if the market had a two-week start on therm.
Talks had been going on between Keswick Town Council and the Workington-based authority and Cllr Titley said: “The Keswick market will not be back until after the shops have opened on 15th June. Keswick Town Council received this assurance from Allerdale Borough Council yesterday.”
Cllr Allan Daniels, one of Keswick’s Allerdale representatives, had queried how social distancing could be maintained at the market when he spoke at last week’s town council meeting. “I think it will be a nightmare,” said Cllr Daniels.
He added that it would be “grossly unfair” for Keswick market to welcome shoppers before general shops in the town, including many on Market Square, saying: “I’d like to see our own shops open and making some money before we have any competition. Our own small businesses are trying to re-establish themselves.”
Cllr Peter Terry said the majority of stallholders at Keswick market did not come from the town, adding that it should not be held until all local shops, such as those selling clothes or books, were able to open and make money. Cllr Tony Lywood said he had spoken to market manager Phil Byers. “He is very keen not to muscle in,” said Cllr Lywood, who added: “The idea of social distancing on market day in Keswick is quite bizarre. I can’t begin to imagine how that might work.”
Keswick’s market has won national awards and was run by the Geraud company before Allerdale took it in-house this year, the start date by coincidence being 1st June. As yet, there is no re-start date for it.
A spokesman from Allerdale Borough Council said: “Markets in Allerdale were all suspended in March in line with government advice and we remain committed to operating them successfully in the future. The council has been consulting its members and town councils and will consult traders about the reopening of our markets and how this can be done in a way which keeps staff, traders and members of the public as safe as possible.
“At the moment we are developing different options for how our markets may return but have no agreed date as to when they will resume. In the meantime we will support traders as much as we can through these challenging times. We are encouraging all businesses to check our website which has links to all the financial support available to them.”
The Government has yet to announce when pubs, bars and restaurants can re-open.