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Burnham For Mayor

Monday, 2 July 2012

My bid to boost Leigh's traditional Market

I am calling on Wigan Council to help develop a new drive to promote Leigh's hidden            treasure, its traditional Lancashire market.

I believe the town could benefit from the fact that its market has stayed strong in recent years as others around it have fallen away.

And the arrival of a new terminal for the Leigh Guided Busway in the town centre could present a major opportunity to bring in new customers from other parts of Greater Manchester.

I have written to council bosses urging them to consider a new five-point plan to promote Leigh Market:

• A new marketing campaign in surrounding areas - possibly using social media to promote the market amongst younger shoppers;
• Better signposting around Leigh and on the Market buidling itself so it can be clearly seen from the Chapel St approach;
• Capital improvements to the Market building to improve the shopping environment;
• Consider increasing the availability of free parking for people shopping in the Market;
• Making sure plans for the new town centre terminal for the Guided Busway maximise potential for new visitors to Leigh Market.

I walked round the stalls at Leigh Market last Friday with Leigh Centurions' Richie Blackmore as part of the 'Love Your Market' campaign.

Leigh town centre has three things going for it that the other towns around us don't have. First, a town-centre cinema. Second, time-limited free parking. And, third, a traditional Lancashire market that is still going strong.

This gives Leigh something to shout about and it's time we did a better job of selling what we've got to offer. We don't want our market to be a 'hidden treasure' but centre-stage in a new drive to bring people back into Leigh town centre.

With all the changes taking place in the town centre, I think the time has come to beat the drum for Leigh a little louder and our Market is a key selling point. That's why I have asked the Council to consider some simple measures in line with the recent Portas Review on town centres.

I think many people don't realise the quality and sheer range of things you can buy under one roof. In just half an hour looking at the great variety of produce, I had a Shetland oyster, a Dawson's meat-and-potato pie, a five-fruit smoothie made to order and some proper Everton mints. I was firing on all cylinders by the time I left - and it all goes to show how very cosmopolitan we are in Leigh!

Leigh Market - and indeed the whole town centre - has a brilliant opportunity with the arrival of a new town centre terminal for the Guided Busway. A similar scheme in Cambridgeshire was initially regarded with scepticism and there were worries it would take visitors away from the town of St Ives. But the exact opposite has happened - thousands of new visitors have started arriving and I want the same for Leigh. With an attractive modern terminal in easy reach of the Loom, the Spinning Gate, Bradshawgate shops and the Market, Leigh could be transformed as a shopping and leisure destination.