MARKET traders in Dorchester’s main shopping street say plans to stop them trading have come as a ‘bombshell’.

A proposal has been put forward that will see traders at Cornhill Market cease trading from 2014 in a bid to improve the street scene of South Street.

Stallholders have been left outraged by the proposals and have also received support from local businesses.

West Dorset District Council’s Dorchester Markets informal joint panel is to consider proposals to close the market in 2014 when it holds a closed meeting tomorrow as it is claimed it ‘does not add to the street-scene of South Street or the shopping experience of visitors’.

Rowena and Jennifer Evans from Country Arts Picture Framers are regular stallholders at Cornhill Market.

In a joint email to the council they said: “As you can imagine, this has been a bombshell to all of us.

“There are many among the traders who have spent years building up their businesses and customer bases from this location.

“The proposal to disband the existing traders and not issue them with licenses after 2014 with no explanation as to the reasons behind this drastic action is unfair.”

Rowena and Jennifer said they would be willing to work with the council to reach a satisfactory solution if the authority was willing to engage with them.

Paetra Withnall runs her Paetra’s Accessories stall at the market most days selling jewellery, scarves and bags.

She said: “A number of stalls have been there for years.

“We have survived there and that is why we are still standing – because people want us to be there.”

Mrs Withnall also challenged the notion that the market detracted from the overall street scene in South Street, claiming it added vibrancy and was not only popular with shoppers but also shops themselves.

She said: “We have got stunning stalls out there and we have a good rapport with the shops.”

Mark Kaufman, who owns Top Drawer card and gift shop in South Street, said he would hate to see the market forced to close.

He said: “I think it’s ridiculous that they are going to be taken away.”

Mr Kaufman said that if the council was keen to enhance the street scene it could give the traders permanent cabins like those used at the Christmas markets in Bournemouth and Southampton.

The market traders have compiled statements outlining their objections to the proposed closure and sent them to West Dorset MP Oliver Letwin.

WDDC Will Consider Any Proposals

A SPOKESMAN said West Dorset District Council said the Dorchester Markets Informal Joint Panel will consider any proposals at their meeting on Wednesday and will then make recommendations to the district and town council. The spokesman added: “Any decision will be made by members of the executive committee of West Dorset District Council and the policy committee of Dorchester Town Council.”