A SPECIAL market day to celebrate Bletchley town centre has attracted 50 new stalls.
An action team including the town council, businesses, retailers and traders came up with the idea as part of a bid to promote the area.
As well as holding the Love Bletchley Day on Saturday, May 12, the group has also applied for funding under the Portas Pilot Bid.
Retail guru Mary Portas has been commissioned by Prime Minister David Cameron to come up with 28 recommendations to save the high street.
These include boosting market days and providing more car parking in town centres. Winning towns will receive a Government grant.
Bletchley town centre has suffered from competition from thecentre:mk, as well as other large retail parks and supermarkets in the city. Further development at the Milton Keynes Dons’ stadium:mk site pose more problems.
Although the current vacancy rate is under one per cent, the former Co-Op building remains a prominent eyesore. It has now been empty for five years.
The market, managed by Bletchley & Fenny Stratford Town Council, has also been declining.
Regeneration officer Jane Forder said: “Regeneration of the town centre is one of our main priorities and we have applied for funding under the Portas Pilot Bid. We have been heavily promoting our market and supported the establishment of a business group in the town centre.
“We set up an action team with businesses, retailers and traders in the town, residents, community groups and MK College in March, to look at arranging a market day with free stalls. The response has been incredible and we have confirmed bookings of 50 additional stalls – which will be joining our regular traders. We have been inundated with enquiries.”
Among the attractions at the Love Bletchley Day – which also marks the start of a ‘Love Bletchley’ campaign – will be a court room drama, a fashion show and live snakes and reptiles.
There will be demonstrations and talks about locally available products, cookery shows and the chance to savour town cuisine. Stalls on the market will include cake making, jewellery, knitting and a Subway store set to include a six foot sandwich.
Stall holders from the Agora Centre will also be taking part on the day.
Solicitor Edward Addison from Queensway’s Austin Ray has helped organise MK College students to produce a court room drama which watchers will be invited to take part in, while an Age UK fashion show using clothes from the store and a reptile show put on by The Realm of Reptiles will also take place.
Mrs Forder said: “There will be a court room drama with students from the college. One of our action group is a solicitor and we are hoping to get the crowd involved.
“Age UK will be holding a fashion show featuring clothes they are selling. Vintage fashion is in at the moment and they will be getting all their friends and family to volunteer to be models.
“We are hoping some of the stall holders come back full time. We will be offering them the chance to go on a course and learn how to start up their own businesses.
“We have always wanted to do something like this. A lot of Mary Portas’ recommendations are based around the market. We are hoping to bring that fun feel back – trying to recreate that excitement in the town centre.”
The event takes place between 9am and 4pm.