Thanet council says Ramsgate’s market is expected to be back up and running by next Spring.
The town centre, Friday market shut when covid restrictions were brought in during March 2020. It briefly reopened in June of that year but issues around placement meant the market closed again. A new site proposed for Pier Yard car park on the seafront was scuppered at the 11th hour.
Traders were then given the go-ahead to use Staffordshire Street car park, taking space in several disabled parking bays. But there was a drop in traders taking part on Fridays and none willing to set up for business at the site on Saturdays.
The low number of stalls meant falling income, with then-operator Hughmark making a decision to cease trade in the town.
In October 2020 Thanet council said there were plans to create a new Canterbury style format with gazebos and themed days and the market contract would go out to tender.
This plan did not move forward but in June this year Cabinet members approved proposals to secure a new operator for the market, and to remove existing street trading and hawking restrictions on the High Street, King Street and Queen Street.
Locations being considered are the High Street and Government Acre.
A Thanet council spokesperson said: “We are now starting the process to relaunch the market. This involves talking to possible operators and choosing a location to hold the market. Two potential locations have been identified: Ramsgate High Street and Government Acre, though we would also consider other locations.
“We will advertise the opportunity to operate the market on Contract Finder and the Kent Business Portal. Interested operators then have the opportunity to submit an Expression of Interest (EoI) via the Kent Business Portal, and take part in the tender process.
“All of the submitted tenders will be evaluated by a panel, according to strict criteria. Once a preferred operator has been identified, due diligence will follow.
“We are optimistic that we will find a new operator who will bring their vision for the new market to life. We anticipate that the new market will be operational by spring 2023.”
Last month a Ramsgate town centre trader launched a petition calling for the return of the weekly market.
Jim Brady, who runs Heaven and Hell gift shop, said the Friday market is a vital part of the town, bringing people on to the high street.
Jim, who has traded in the town for some 15 years via the market, his former shop in Harbour Street and new premises in the High Street, says it is time to get the market back – ideally with Ramsgate Town Council running it.