BASINGSTOKE and Deane Borough Council is set to appoint a specialist to run the Top of The Town market in a bid to make it more attractive to shoppers.

The new measure is part of an initiative by the borough council to revitalise the market, which has operated in Market Place since 1622, and make the Top of The Town area more attractive to shoppers.

The market, which operates on Wednesdays and Saturdays, has seen a decline in traders in recent years but as part of action plan by the borough council they hope to attract specialist markets, including local produce, vintage and arts and crafts fairs.

If new stalls are attracted to the market, it could stretch from Market Place down to London Street, Winchester Street and Wote Street.

Deputy leader of Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council, Councillor Ranil Jayawardena said: “If we do nothing the danger is that the current market could dwindle even further. I believe that market trading is a central part of the shopping offer in the town's historic heart.”

He added: “Engaging specialists to run the market will mean bringing expert skills and contacts to focus on developing the market into something that will really put Basingstoke on the map and make it a 'go to' location.”