Decision day looms for new Swindon Town Center Market proposal
There’s a month to decide whether to try and bring a market back to downtown Swindon.
The Towns Fund Board, set up by Swindon Borough Council with members from the business and voluntary sectors, is developing detailed business cases to ensure that the £ 19.5million pledged by the government central from the fund are actually spent here.
The only uncertain project is the project of a new market in the city center.
According to the council’s initial proposal, a new market would be set up in the space in central Brunel, using £ 100,000 of Towns Fund money and £ 150,000 of money from the owners of Brunel FI Real Estate .
After three damaging blockages due to the coronavirus pandemic, FI Real Estate withdrew from the program to focus on recovering the center itself.
That leaves the Towns Fund Board with £ 100,000 and a decision – should they try to create a new market or ask the government if they can use the money for a different project.
Borough Council member Dave Dewart told the board: “There are two realistic options for spending that £ 100,000. One is to support an outdoor market three days a week in the city center which will be operated by inSwindon BID.
“The other is to try to recycle the £ 100,000 and get permission to use it for something else – possibly to improve the public domain in the Railway Village compared to other projects.”
Mr. Dewart stressed that a decision must be made by the next board meeting on November 19.
He said: “If we don’t make a decision, the money will have to be returned to the government. If we don’t go for a market, we have to demonstrate another use because it is consistent with the benefits of the projects.
Asked by President Richard Newland if it was likely he would be allowed to use the money for another program, North Swindon MP Justin Tomlinson said: ‘If we mean we want to spend it on something else thing, I think it won’t be that. receptive. But if we say we can’t do that, but we have this other project and he’s ready, he might be a little more receptive to the idea.
Anita Bellinger, director of Swindon, told the committee that a steady market is more than a possibility.
She said: “We have a market with about 40 stalls ready to go.”
Another board member, Pam Webb of Voluntary Action Swindon, said she would speak to the board’s community engagement panel about what he would like to see.
She added, “It has come out a lot in community engagement that people would really like a downtown market again.”
The downtown tent market closed in 2017.
A decision will be made by the board of directors at its next meeting on November 19. It can be viewed online via a link from the meeting calendar at swindon.gov.uk