Covered market to be upgraded

Oxford’s Covered Market has received a £50,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to boost its global profile and develop a stronger online presence.
The market already has a website, but the new project, entitled Who is Oxford’s Covered Market?, plans to draw more attention to it as an Oxfordshire attraction.

The project is a joint effort of The Oxford Muse Foundation, the Oxfordshire Town Chambers Network and Oxford Civic Society. It will involve compiling narratives of the personal histories and personalities of the Covered Market traders, and detailing the development of the market’s historic building.

Many market traders have voiced their support for the project.

Paul Birtles, who owns Garden, a florist in the market, said he thinks the plans could help increase his foot traffic and sales.

“The market is still very much a hidden gem. We hear the comments visitors make every day when they come in, and I think we don’t make more of the market as an asset.

“We don’t get as many visitors as a place like this should be getting. The profile does need raising, big time,” Birtles said.

But some traders have questioned whether the new venture will do enough to help struggling independent businesses after a recent rent hike from the council.

“It depends what they’re going to spend it on really,” said the manager of Nash’s Bakery. “The rents have gone up and it’s not really fair that we have to pay extortionate rates. We want the market to be run like it has been, not as the council want it.”