THERE are questions over the future of a town market which has received £30,000 of public funding.

Stonehouse Market Community Interest Company was set up in August 2021 with the aim of running a Saturday afternoon market in the town’s High Street.

They wanted to provide retailers to the people of Stonehouse who would not otherwise be available such as a specialised greengrocer.

It was also set up with the aim of providing opportunities for tradespeople to sell directly to the public, boost footfall, and help reinvigorate the town’s shop and provide employment.

Gloucestershire County Council awarded the scheme £30,000 in Build Back Better grant funding to help the initiative which was secured by county councillor Nick Housden, who represents the area at Shire Hall.

Stonehouse Town Council waived its fees when the market launched in 2022 and they traded from their greens in High Street from June until December that year.

However, the market does not look like it has been much of a success with four out of its five directors resigning since it was established.

And there has also recently been an offer to transfer the running of the market to the town council.

The market’s accounts, as of 31 December, 2022 show their balance to be just £1,456.

They took in £3,885 in stall fees which, according to their accounts on Companies House, this brought their total income for the year to £33,885. However, their outgoings totalled £32,428.

Their accounts say a total of £14,003 was spent on equipment, £8,985 on wages, £3,080 on marketing, £2,197 on licences, £1,263 on insurance.

They also spent £996.38 on admin, £510 on subscriptions, £177 on repairs and £115 on internet.

The town market’s future has been a matter of discussion at Stonehouse Town Council in recent months.

In May, the council’s business committee was advised that the fruit and veg stallholder was in the process of independently signing the town council’s licence agreement and that other stallholders may also approach the town council to do likewise.

Since then, two other stallholders have also signed to trade on an individual basis with a different business model to that of Stonehouse Market CIC in that the stallholders are responsible for the erection and dismantling of their own stalls.

Chris Easton, a former director of Stonehouse Market CIC director who resigned on June 24, said the town council’s wish to charge a fee per stall per week made it unviable. This fee is understood to be £5.

“The economics of this didn’t work so I believe the town council may or may not be taking over direct control," he said.

“Other bodies were approached with a view to take it on but with no positive reply, so I hope the town council do take an interest in it.

“In the meantime, I understand that several of our stallholder clients have be granted direct permission by the town council to operate for the last few months.”

He added that he really hopes the market is resurrected in some form.