SAVE ST ALBANS CHARTER MARKET
SAVE ST ALBANS CHARTER MARKET
SAVE OUR CHARTER MARKET…….
St Albans City is blessed with Roman ancestry and has been home to various notable figures, a historically significant City. But the true backbone of the City’s illustrious heritage is the Charter Market, which has been a fixed, unwavering part of everyday life since it first formed in medieval times.
Initially the market was run outside the Abbey, later moving to St Peters Street and the Clock Tower heralded the start and the end of the Charter Market day.
The Charter officialised the Market, in 948 AD. An Abbott at St Albans Cathedral decreed a twice weekly market ‘Charter’ to continue forevermore and this was later authorised by the Crown. In 1554 Edward 6th declared there should be markets twice weekly and three fairs per year. Queen Mary confirmed this in 1553 and in February 1559. The Charter was re-confirmed by King Charles 1st on 27th December 1633.
The Charter Market has existed since pre-William the Conqueror, through the Crusades, the English Revolution, and two World Wars and now must see through a Post-Pandemic period, never before seen.
The Market has shaped St Albans’ identity, becoming a central focal point of the lives of the city’s inhabitants, creating a social, cultural and political ‘hubbub’.
With the help of our Charter Market St Albans has been named, “best place to live in the southeast” It’s no secret that the St Albans Market attracts visitors from all neighbouring counties, making St Albans a vibrant, diverse and enjoyable City to live in.
Traders of St Albans Market are a very close-knit organisation, many of the Traders have been around for decades and provide a good variety of stalls. As well as long-term traders the Market attracts small individual traders who are just starting new businesses. They work hard to provide for their families and to grow their business. The market is their livelihood and has become the centre of their lives.
Our Charter Market is home to many traders; these vary from traders who have been with us for 40 years and new starters. Over the years we have accommodated a growing demand of small private traders who are simply operating from the boot of their cars with handmade arts & crafts products & home-grown produce. A good market needs other unique items to tempt shoppers into the town centre. Demand for small traders will grow even bigger with the impact of Covid-19 resulting in people losing their jobs and looking for alternative ways of earning a living. Unfortunately the current proposal does not allow these small operators to take part in our Charter Market as it is ‘non-inclusive’ in many respects.
Under the current administration (The Council) the historic Market as we know it, is set to disappear forever. We need to act quickly to preserve and safeguard it from further damage. New plans suggest that all traders will have to bring their own gazebos and set up stalls as at a car boot sale. This will be a huge blow to our Market as small traders will not be able to afford or transport huge structures costing hundreds of pounds and it is labour-intensive erecting these structures and impossible for one individual working alone. Small start-up businesses and individual traders will not be able to afford to transport large Gazebos, meaning the Market will only consist of large traders, without any of the small businesses, start-ups and individual traders that add so much variety and interest.
Indeed the term ‘market trader’ will be barely relevant to St. Albans Market when only teams, couples and groups are trading as one business because of the Gazebo/stall erection requirement.
Our traditional market stalls have been designed to complement and work with the high street, ensuring all shop signs are visible when the Market is in situ, unlike Gazebos which block-out shop signs. Traditional market stalls are made of heavy metal frames and can safely withstand light winds and adverse weather, especially as they are linked. Gazebos however, have light aluminium frames with no way of securing them to the ground.
There has been a lot of negative publicity suggesting that the Market makes huge losses, however almost like the Brexit referendum campaign, only the negatives are being highlighted rather than what the City gains out of the Market every week. Two days of Charter Market brings visitors and shoppers from all neighbouring counties. Shoppers often travel by car which increases car parking revenue to more than the cost of running the market. The increased weekly footfall benefits all St Albans high street businesses and the local economy making sure our city remains vibrant and attractive with no closed down shops.
Running our Charter market does cost money, of course it does, but this must not be looked at as a Loss but any investment in our market is an investment in our City protecting the high quality and reputation afforded to St Albans Charter market.
Our Charter market should continue as it has done since medieval times.
Character of design and layout may be improved from time to time what has been considered or what has appeared is unacceptable and not in-keeping with the City.
Our Charter market should not be turned into a Car Boot Sale or a “Glastonbury as it was in the 70s” to quote, with oddly shaped/sized and varying coloured gazebos but should remain a quintessentially, authentic English Market which is why it has been loved so much by so many to date.
Our Market should always remain open for new starters & small private individual traders at all costs. However, erecting safe stalls is not a single persons job and not many vehicles can carry the required equipment such as tables, gazebos, lighting and even generators along with stock to sell. This aspect is key and should be seriously taken into account when planning the future of our market.
Charter Markets nationally provide an essential community facility to residents and visitors and are intended to offer viable/affordable business opportunities for Traders. They are an important part of our local communities, and ensuring that our market continues to thrive, develop and prosper is vital in securing the future prosperity of St. Albans, as a City, particularly in a post-pandemic economy