COUNCIL chiefs hope to reinvigorate markets across West Oxfordshire as Witney’s Market Square prepares for a £40,000 revamp.

West Oxfordshire District Council has completed a review of markets and hopes to increase district turnover from an estimated £1.2m a year to £1.8m.

Recommendations include rebranding Witney’s market to the Witney Buttercross Market and encouraging specialist markets to open.

Meanwhile, Oxfordshire County Council will begin an eight-week project to resurface Market Square – which has broken slabs from tree roots – on May 20.

Market traders, who will be moved to outside the Post Office and under the Town Hall during the work, said the project is needed but will hit business.

Witney market, which has up to 25 pitches, takes place on Thursdays and Saturdays. There’s also a farmers’ market monthly on Fridays.

The district council launched the review of West Oxfordshire markets, led by head of community services Bill Oddy, in October.

Mr Oddy said: “The idea is to build on the existing framework that exists but ensure that the markets are sustainable in the future and play a significant role in the local economy.

“We think there is the potential to increase the annual turnover of £1.2m by another 50 per cent.”

He said Witney market has 25 pitches on a Saturday but it could accommodate 50.

Mr Oddy said rebranding the market as Witney Buttercross Market – after a monument in the centre of the town – aimed to replicate the “strong branding” of Oxford’s Covered Market.

He said the monthly farmers’ market could be moved from Fridays to Saturdays to bring the market days together.

The report makes 14 recommendations, including providing opportunities for specialist markets, developing a marketing and communications plan and considering the future management of markets.

Witney market stall owner Martin Eldridge said: “It could be a good idea. A better, busier, healthier market will be good.

“But the biggest improvement would be if we all had uniform stalls. It does not look that nice on the eye at the moment.”

He added: “Obviously the work to Market Square needs doing. All the tree routes are pushing up the slabs.

“It is good in a way because we will be so close to where we are normally, but it is on a slope and it is going to be disruptive.”

Stall owner Ranj Bains said: “For years I have been telling them about the state of the paving and the number of people tripping over the stones. I am glad it is getting done.”

On the district council report, he said: “If the economy picks up, everything else will pick up with it. It is a national thing, it is not a local thing.”

West Oxfordshire District Council runs the markets in Witney and Chipping Norton. Carterton’s market is run by Carterton Town Council and the monthly farmers’ market in Witney is run by Thames Valley Market Cooperative.

The report and its recommendations will be discussed by the district council’s cabinet in June or July.