‘Banbridge’s ‘little piggies’ don’t need to go to market’

THERE is an old nursery rhyme which has been troubling children’s toes for many a year.

One little piggy goes to market but another little piggy stays home. Obviously if the two piggies lived in Banbridge the one going to market would have a fair way to travel.

Everything might be so much more convenient for him if Banbridge had its own Sunday market. Maybe his mate wouldn’t stay inside and would go shopping too. It seems that our Councillors in Banbridge aren’t impressed by any piggy lobby.

I have lived in Banbridge pretty well all of my life. For as long as I can remember there has been some sort of a market either in Rathfriland Street or around Solitude. Flowers, vegetables and other things have been sold. If I’m not imagining it I even seem to remember a fishmonger’s van.

There must be tensions which could easily strain relations between the travelling market traders and the settled shopkeepers. Shopkeepers have fixed overheads and permanent responsibilities which their mobile colleagues don’t have. It could easily be alleged that the two sides are playing on a field which is far from level.

Happily, however, the two sectors seem to live together very harmoniously. I imagine that the scale and offering of the market has evolved to fit Banbridge. Maybe the market adds value to the shop based offering. Balance appears to have been achieved. 
For the life of me I can’t understand what question a large scale Sunday market would answer in our town. The promoter would propose to locate it in Newry Street where it is argued it would attract trade which could also be captured by shopkeepers. The argument would presumably be that shops which are already open on a Sunday would see more trade and that other traders could choose to open on a Sunday and reap potentially significant rewards.

I can’t see it myself. Those shops and indeed other businesses which are open on a Sunday already find it appropriate to do so. It seems unlikely that a large collective of market traders would add much value. Those businesses which do not open on Sundays are closed for economic, religious or legal reasons and it would need a significant character shift in many places to see those reasons overturned.

Traffic management problems would inevitably arise as a result of a market spanning all or even part of Newry Street. Emergency services, funerals and ordinary folk could be inconvenienced and frustrated for no obvious benefit. Even the aspect of Newry Street would not be improved.

The town looks best when the streetscape looks open and uncluttered. Remembering back to the days when traffic lanes were separated by concrete “coffins” the town never looked well even when the flowers in the “coffins” were at their most pretty and spectacular.

I’m not sure where the idea for a Sunday market came from. I imagine that it was from the market promoter rather than from any group having strategic ambitions for civic growth. Undoubtedly times are tough all over, possibly tougher than they have ever been. It seems to me though that we have market trade at an appropriate level already. Suddenly to introduce a market initiative which has not been researched or invited could be damaging.

The market could travel on but any damage would have been done. The risk doesn’t seem worth it so I’m with our Councillors even at the risk of discriminating against a section of the piggy community.