Multi-million-pound regeneration plans for the markets in Rawtenstall, Bacup and Haslingden, have been commended by the country’s market traders’ leader.

Joe Harrison, chief executive of the National Market Traders’ Federation, said investing in the redevelopment of markets 'was a dynamic way of revitalising footfall into town centres'.

Preparatory work on the £8.3 million redevelopment of Bacup Market – to be known as Temple Court; the £500,000 refurbishment of Haslingden Market; and public consultations over the future of Rawtenstall Market as part of the town’s Master Plan, are under way.

Joe said: “Going back centuries, the market has been the social hub of a town.

"Historically, shops opened around the market because that’s where the retail footfall was.

“Now, councils are returning to the basic idea of developing outwardly from the market hub by making it a social meeting place, where people can buy traditional fayre, as well as artisan goods and exciting food and drink.

“Our national conference banner this year is ‘New Markets, New Traders, New Opportunities’ and councils like Rossendale are making this happen in a very positive way.

“I am so proud of Rossendale Council for how they are intending to bring the markets back to being attractive social hubs not only for the individual town’s own communities but also for visitors from outside.”

Joe, who represents 30,000 market traders, added: “We are hoping that every local market will soon have young traders who will bring a new generation and customer base into the market area. 

"For young people having a market stall is a great and economic way to launch a business because it is a lot cheaper than to rent a shop.

“The aim of our federation’s Young Traders’ Scheme is to encourage young entrepreneurs and for them to attract a new young customer base who they relate to and who at present spend a lot of time shopping online.” 

Joe believes that markets bolster an area’s economy because the traders are usually locally based as are the customers.

He said: “The money spent on a market stays in the local community. In addition, a well-run market attracts visitors from outside who then spend their money in the community.”

Also, a town’s health and well-being is served by a market environment, says Joe.

He added: “Local communities are about people and people coming together. And there is no better place to see that happening than at the market. 

“For everyone, but especially older people, markets tick so many boxes as they can provide a lifeline for talking and speaking to others. Just shopping and meeting people face to face rather than living on a computer screen addresses issues like mental health.

“I realise that every market is different due to demographic and the make-up of a town – that is why they are so special! When you visit a market you experience local culture and the real people of the area.

“When people go off on holiday they often seek out the local market to soak up that special local atmosphere. I believe we all should start enjoying the same experience at home.”