Market income at Dorchester is said to have improved significantly since the ending of Covid restrictions.

Traders at the market were praised for continuing to open throughout the pandemic.

But the drop in trade led to a fall in income for the 2021-22 financial year, down by more than £35,000 with a deficit on the budget for Sunday car boot income.

There was also a loss of rental income from the Cornhill street market and a reduction in the share of car parking fees.

A report to the joint market panel on Wednesday (Aug 3) says that market operators, Ensors, are now reporting a ‘significant improvement’ compared to the last financial year as the amount of visitors and traders at the market increase again.

Councillors will be told that the final net surplus for distribution in 2021/22 was £85,402 against a budget of £121,197, a shortfall of £35,795.

Of the net amount £13,154 has gone to the to the Sunday Car Boot Reserve (against a budget of £18,900); £46,961 to Dorset Council (against a budget of £66,493), and £25,287 to Dorchester Town Council (against a budget of £35,804).

A verbal report will be presented to councillors at the August 3rd meeting on the latest financial position, which is said to be positive, and on progress over what actions might be necessary to maintain the success of the market and attract younger customers.

Many of the existing customers tend to be older with the market popular for seasonal fruit and vegetable, plants and flowers, although it also has a selection of food, pet products and clothing.

The main Wednesday market and Sunday car boot, and other occasional markets in the town, are jointly run by Dorset Council and Dorchester Town Council, each taking a share of any profits, with Dorset Council taking the largest amount.

The Wednesday market in managed by Wimborne-based Ensors although councillors have been considering whether their contract should be extended – with the company previously suggesting that it might only consider continuing if there was to be a substantial investment from the councils in improving facilities and making the market more attractive to a wider audience.

Some Dorchester councillors have been lobbying over a number of years for the Town Council to take over the day to day management of the markets.