Late last year, Sefton Council opened a four-week public consultation into the future of the market after it unveiled plans to reinvigorate the facility, which dates back to 1857. Tony McDonough reports
Food and drink outlets and artisan produce hold the key to the future success of Southport Market, according to a public survey.
Late last year, Sefton Council opened a four-week public consultation into the future of the market after it unveiled plans to reinvigorate the facility, which dates back to 1857, and restore it to its former glory.
The consultation highlighted how the market in its current form, with its empty units and tired feel, was an uninviting place for both local people and to the many visitors that come to the seaside town. Hundreds of people got involved in the consultation process via Sefton Council’s online e-consult site and through hard copies that were available at the King Street market and other council buildings.
The council said 91% of respondents who responded were Sefton residents and just under 80% of them had heard or seen the images charting how the King Street market could look in the future.
Many respondents were in favour of more food and drink outlets. Outlets such as Baltic Market and Duke Street Market in Liverpool, as well as Woodside Ferry Village in Birkenhead, have proved a hit with their offer of food and drink concessions.
Cllr Marion Atkinson, Sefton Council’s Labour Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Skills, said: “We have said all along that we value Southport Market but the current offer and the way it operates simply doesn’t work.
“The consultation reaffirmed this with people saying they don’t visit the facility much, highlighting the number of empty units and how it was an uninviting place to visit. A number of responses also identified that a change in the offer at the market would improve the look and feel of the market quarter in the town.
“People have now told us how they would like a variety of food and drink establishments at the market with 78% of respondents saying they would buy from a deli/greengrocer/butcher that focused on local or specialised produce.
“Early plans drawn up for us last year had a flexible events space at the back of the market and our consultation found that 72% of people would visit an artisan and local food market with 64% saying they would go to a craft market as well.
“These findings have been reported back to our public Consultation and Engagement panel with the view of moving the project forward during our Borough of Culture year
“Building on our former investment at the market, we believe these findings can help us move forward and help transform the building into a unique offer that will only benefit the town and the wider borough.”