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THE Melksham community would like to see the Market Place space better utilised, with suggestions ranging from continental style dining, markets throughout the week, entertainment and charity events.
However, some residents believe that the Market Place should return to be being a free car park, helping to support businesses in the town centre and providing more disabled car parking spaces.
Since the completion of the Market Place re-development in October 2017, the space has only been used for the Alzheimer’s Society Roadshow in October last year; the annual Christmas lights switch-on and the weekly Tuesday market – both already regular events prior to when works began.
With the lack of use of the Market Place coming under fire from the community, the Melksham Area Board hosted a consultation at their meeting in November last year to collect ideas from residents on how they could help facilitate events in the Market Place.
Melksham’s community engagement manager at Wiltshire Council, Rhys Schell said, “The most popular requests were for a gazebo/marquee, large outdoor screen, mic/PA equipment, more seats and year-round plants/trees.
“The Area Board will be exploring their options and establishing what may be viable for further discussion in February.”
Meanwhile, Melksham News hit the streets to talk to residents to collect more ideas on how they would like to see the space used.
An overwhelming number of locals showed support for the ArtHouse Café’s idea to use the Market Place for outside dining – an idea that was given approval by Wiltshire Council at the end of the summer last year after weeks of what was described as ‘bureaucracy gone mad’ by ArtHouse Café volunteers.
Another popular suggestion was hosting more markets throughout the week. “More stalls should be encouraged, we are a market town after all,” said Wendy Cox. “I’d like to see some specialised markets – a German market, or a Christmas market – that would be great!”
Alfie Northam said, “Maybe a market at the weekend? People my age are at school or at work during the week so don’t get to go to the market on Tuesdays.”
But some residents felt that the Market Place should not have been re-developed. “Getting rid of the free car parking was stupid. No one uses the town for shopping now – the town centre is dying,” said Christopher Orchard.
Other suggestions included hosting fairs; allowing charities to use the space to promote their cause; and encouraging more performances, such as singing and dancing, in the space.
• Do you agree or disagree? What do you think the Market Place should be used for? Email us your thoughts and opinions to news@melksham news.co.uk or send them by post to 31 Market Place, Melksham. SN12 6ES