BRIGHOUSE Open Market could be used more widely and its future role re-examined, after the COVID-19 pandemic has seen an increase in trading.

Members of Calderdale Council’s Markets Working Party heard that following the return of non-essential traders after virus lockdown restrictions were eased on June 15, occupancy of the open market stalls had increased.

Markets manager John Walker’s recommendations to the board actions include co-ordinating with Brighouse’s Town Board improvement of the market and, investigating using the site on additional days, the latter option possibly aimed at sale of used goods and unwanted products rather than traders selling new products.

One possibility which is being examined is seeing if elements of Sowerby Bridge Market, which is to go, could be salvaged and used to improve Brighouse.

Coun Howard Blagbrough (Con, Brighouse) said estimates to bring the market up to standard had come in at larger amounts than expected but sustaining the market going forward was an investment in some ways.

Section of lost Bradford building to be refurbished as part of market plan

As the pandemic had shown, “people are using markets more. This needs to be considered very seriously,” he said.

People felt safe shopping there and appreciated the town.

“In my view, it’s definitely worth every penny,” he said.

The council took over the market in January 2019 but it is in a very dilapidated state, with upgrading work at that point, taking in removing wooden stalls, sorting out water and drainage supplies, providing “pop up” electrical supplies, some resurfacing, toilet provision and aesthtic improvements, estimated to cost around £119,500.

Brighouse Town Board, which favours a “masterplanning” approach for Brighouse, do view the market as being a key element in the town and want to see it continuing at its current site off Ship Street for the time being, say briefing documents to board members.

It had been suggested the Town Board might provide some financial help towards the work needed and Coun Blagbrough asked if this money was still available.

Markets Working Party Chair Coun Jane Scullion (Lab, Luddenden Foot) said she would check.

Coun Blagbrough suggested now might be the right time to look at the market’s future.

Markets manager John Walker said estimates had yet to be obtained for the demolition of the open market stalls so the situation could be looked at again.

Taking them away would lose the extra 30 per cent of occupancy, he said.

The stalls looked “horrible” but it had been suggested some kit could come from Sowerby Bridge market to improve them, if it was viable, he said.