PRIME Minister David Cameron has said he is delighted that Witney Farmers’ Market will move back to the Market Square.
The market had been based at Marriotts Walk Shopping Centre but has suffered falling customer numbers and seen the number of stalls dwindle to about 10.
Stallholders hope returning to the Market Square – from where the market moved in a bid to boost trade last year – will help bring back customers and traders.
The first of the monthly markets will be held on Friday, from 8.30am to 1.30pm, and will feature returning and new stallholders.
West Oxfordshire choir Voice Box will also attend to sing Christmas carols.
Witney MP Mr Cameron said: “I am delighted to hear that Witney Farmers’ Market is moving back to the Market Place in time for Christmas.
“Whenever I shop at a farmers’ market in West Oxfordshire, I am always impressed by the range and quality of the food produced in this area.
“We are lucky to have some really excellent farmers and other small scale food producers in our region and the farmers’ market in Witney provides a great opportunity to reconnect us with our local food heritage.”
Liz Styan, who runs Styan Family Produce, said: “It is really good news.
“The Market Square has much better natural footfall and it is handy for people coming in on buses and those going to the bank, who were finding it tricky before.
“If we had not have got this move now, then it would have been a case of the market folding. We could not encourage back stallholders who had left.
“I am now optimistic about the future of the market.
“Hopefully it is now a virtuous circle rather than a spiral of decline.”
Vic Altaf and Cherie Waqar, who run North Leigh-based Indian home-made food company Sufi Spice, joined the farmers’ market a month ago.
Mr Altaf said: “It was a step into the unknown for us but we have had a fantastic response.
“Since we joined the farmers’ market that side of the business has taken off, even more than the catering side.
“It is great that the market is now moving back into the heart of Witney town centre.
“We did a scouting mission to Witney Farmers’ Market and it was definitely a little quieter and did not have as many stalls as others around the county.
“We were surprised by that because Witney has got all the ingredients – the community and the town – and there is no reason it should not have a vibrant market.”
The farmers’ market, which also sells meat, fruit and vegetables, bread and cakes, Christmas wreaths and plants, mince pies, eggs, cheese, wine, ale and mulled cider, is organised by Thames Valley Farmers’ Market Co-operative.
Market manager Leroy McKenzie said: “We have very loyal customers in Witney and we are looking forward to seeing them in our new location. All their favourite stalls will be there as well as some excellent new producers.”
For more information about the market, which will be held on the last Friday of the month, visit tvfm.org.uk