THE current licence for the town’s award-winning farmers' market has been extended for seven months while a consultation is carried out.

Stroud District Council’s strategy and resources committee unanimously voted to extend the licence on the same terms at a meeting on Thursday night.

This will give officers time to consult with the community and discuss options for the future of the weekly Saturday market.

The lease for the current occupier, Made in Stroud Ltd, was due to end on Monday, March 31 however this week's decision has extended that licence until the end of October.

At the meeting, Cllr Keith Pearson (Con, Upton St Leonards) suggested the licence be extended for nine months – taking it up to December 31 – to give stability over the Christmas period.

However, the motion was rejected by councillors who felt the future of the market would be well established before the seven month extension period ended.

The committee also agreed to consult with stallholders, district councillors, town councillors and other interested parties on options for operating the market.

A report of these findings will be given to the committee in June.

Cllr Molly Scott Cato (Green, Valley) read a letter from fellow councillor and former mayor Andy Read (Ind, Central), which urged the committee to consider 'the social and economic' benefits the market brings to the town.

Cllr Scott Cato added that any decision should be based on benefits to the community not on the amount of income the council could obtain.

She also outlined a list of criteria that should make up the basis of the consultation in order to help the committee with its final decision in June.

The criteria included how to increase the number of businesses involved, improvements to public health, collaboration between current stallholders and other local food producers as well as improving the general footfall in the town.

Cllr Tom Williams (Lab, Cainscross) assured stallholders that councillors and officers did not want to damage the quality of the market, which won the

“The idea that the council is trying to undermine the process is just a scare story that has been put around,” he said.