HENLEY'S seasonal markets are set to be revamped.
Alison Hussey, who organises the quarterly Love Henley markets, has been appointed by the town council to run this year's Christmas event.
She will take over the contract from the Market Square Group, which organises several international markets in the town every year.
The council is also trying to organise a new summer market in partnership with Henley's three twin towns.
Traders from Leichlingen in Germany, Falaise in France and Bled in Slovenia would be invited to sell their goods in Market Place.
It would be run with help from the towns' twinning groups and if it was successful then Henley stallholders could return the gesture.
The council also hopes to organise an annual artisan market this spring. It would be run along similar lines to a flea market with second-hand and hand-made goods on sale. These markets would replace the regular Continental markets, which various companies have run in recent years. The Market Square Group will continue to run its World Village markets every autumn.
The shake-up follows a review of the town's markets which the council conducted last year and asked shoppers what they would like to see.
This followed complaints from local shopkeepers that the Continental markets were too big and took money out of the local economy.
Councillor Elizabeth Hodgkin, who chairs the council's markets working group, said: "We wanted to make the markets more local. There was nothing wrong with the Market Square Group, we were perfectly happy with what they were doing.
"However, we felt it was time for a positive change and to create more opportunities for traders from the Henley area." Ms Hussey, from Mill End, launched the Love Henley campaign to promote local produce in late 2013.
She said she wanted the Christmas market to be "something new and exciting".
"It's at a very early stage but it will celebrate everything that's fabulous about Henley because that's what Love Henley is all about," she said.
"There will be a very strong Christmas vibe with a real variety of goods from the local area rather than overseas.
"I want the market to appeal to children and young people and to sell everything from affordable gifts to luxury items. There should be something for everyone.
"I'm very open to suggestions and would be delighted to hear more from people about what they want to see or what they can offer."
Meanwhile, Henley's monthly farmers' markets are to be held twice a month for a six-month trial period.
They currently take place on the fourth Thursday of each month but an extra one will be held every second Saturday, starting on April 11.
This will consist of 12 food stalls selling meat, fruit, vegetables, cakes, pies, pastries and dairy produce between 8.30am and 2pm.
If it proves popular, the arrangement may become permanent. Last year the traders, most of whom are local, feared the council was considering putting the contract on their market out to tender.
They carried out a survey of their regular customers and found most wanted no change.
Organiser Caroline Tyler said: "It's good news, although we feel it's mostly thanks to the survey we carried out. We're keeping an open mind on how it will do â?? if Henley wants it, it will support it."
Town centre manager Peter McConnell said: "The market review has been a really good idea and I think the town will benefit from it."
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