A FARMERS’ market, which was meant to help revitalise the Top of The Town, may not return to Basingstoke until next year.
As previously reported in The Gazette, Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council has been in negotiations with Hampshire Farmers’ Markets to bring the attraction to the town on the last Saturday of the month.
The not-for-profit organisation, which stopped running in Basingstoke in 2008, listed on its website that it would return to the town on March 29 this year.
But delays to repaving work being carried out by Hampshire County Council (HCC) prevented its return – and the organisation has now stated on its website that it will not be coming to Basingstoke in 2014.
HCC previously told The Gazette that the work was only delayed by a week because of bad weather, and would be complete by the week beginning April 7. But further delays from “weather-related issues” resulted in the work not being finished until April 28.
Plans to bring the farmers’ market back have also been blighted by criticism from traders of the weekly Saturday market, who were outraged when they were informed by the borough council that they would not be allowed to trade alongside the farmers’ market.
A petition of around 500 signatures was handed in to the borough council, asking for the two markets to trade alongside each other.
Councillor Ranil Jayawardena, borough council deputy leader, said: “We remain very keen to bring Hampshire Farmers’ Markets to Basingstoke and will continue to work with them to achieve this aim.
“It is regrettable that so far we have not been able to find a mutually agreeable arrangement that could bring Hampshire Farmers’ Markets to the town more quickly and take advantage of space in their calendar that is now available.”
The borough council has said it is still in negotiations with Hampshire Farmers’ Markets after a decision was approved to continue with negotiations.
However, Alex Handford, business manager for Hampshire Farmers’ Markets, previously told The Gazette that the organisation did not want to “upset” anyone and was reluctant to say whether the two markets could trade together. She was not available to comment on the latest update.