It is one of the oldest markets in Britain. But its best days may be yet to come.
Shambles Market could become “a national, and potentially international, destination”, says the man who is in overall charge.
Sean Bullick, head of Make It York, wants to take the market into a bold new era – working with the various stakeholders.
Many stallholders have been critical of both Make It York’s management and Mr Bullick personally.
But he wants to work alongside them “to secure this fabulous opportunity”.
Mr Bullick has formed a working party to investigate how Shambles Market can be developed.
He wants its members to explore how best to take it forward – and nothing is off the table.
“It could be public realm investment. It could be creating a roof,” he said.
He believes York’s centuries-old market has huge potential:
There’s an opportunity to create a national, and potentially international, destination – and as part of that create an even better community asset.
We see that future as being the jewel in the crown not just of York, but in the centre of God’s Own County.
He sees the development scheme in three broad stages:
- Create a vision of how Shambles Market could be developed
- Put together a business case for funding
- Use this to seek investment to put the plans into practice.
He hoped that the working party could come forward with solid proposals within a year.
And Mr Bullick has a track record when it comes to rejuvenating markets. When he ran NE1, the Newcastle business improvement district, he helped transform the city’s Quayside Sunday Market.
Fifteen years ago, it was in serious decline.
“It’s absolutely flying now,” he said. “That’s down to the fact that I personally spotted the opportunity to create an infinitely better market for residents and visitors.
“It’s gone from being on its last legs to being an enormous attraction – and a fantastic opportunity for the traders.”
He is confident he can do the same with Shambles Market. But he has work to do to convince some of the market traders.
First Make It York imposed regulations on stallholders during St Nicholas Fair which meant they faced up to 16-hour days.
Then traders queued up to criticise the organisation at a council meeting earlier this month. One accused it of childish behaviour over the new working group.
Of the composition of the working party, Mr Bullick said :
We’re fully cognisant of the need to have the right representation from the various traders.
We are just finalising exactly what that representation is from stallholders.
We can fully understand that market traders are concerned to make sure they are able to represent their views in a proper way.
We are looking to finalise the market trader representation.
It needs to include a range of stakeholders feeding their ideas and findings into the process, he says – and if it does, he is confident that an exciting future lies ahead for the market.