WINCHESTER’s High Street market has again come under fire despite bringing in around £8m to the city each year.

The market was criticised by several businesses on Tuesday night (Nov 5) after an impact report at the Future of the High Street conference at Winchester Guildhall.

Dr Parves Khan, head of research and intelligence at Tourism South East, conducted an economic survey of 200 customers and 50 stalls in September, revealing shoppers spent £7.9m on goods per year.

She said: “What shoppers told us is they really like the market and it has added vibrancy and a buzz they really enjoy in the city.”

But Tony Whyman, of Childhood’s Dream toy shop in The Brooks, said the market should be moved to a quieter part of the city to attract more customers.

He said: “Why put a street market on the High Street which is where we know people go? Why not put it in Market Street and take people away from areas that are doing well and try it somewhere not doing so well so those shops can use it?

“We had to move from our premises in Southgate Street because no one was coming up there.”

Others criticised the difference in standards between food stalls and shops, claiming the latter was subject to stricter health and safety regulations.

But city council chief executive Simon Eden said the market was still a “work in progress” and was open to change in the future.

On the health question, he said: “The council is not being vindictive; we are required to make inspections of shops and we do not have the power to make inspections of market stalls.”

Paul Lewis, market manager, added: “All my staff have passed their checks and have also been checked by environmental health regularly at home and in their business premises.”

Chris Turner, executive director of Winchester Business Improvement District, which helped organise the conference, said BID initially had problems with the market but that it was proving popular with shoppers.

He said: “All the research we have done says that people like it. I will see people moan about it and then I will see them buying things from it. There is no denying footfall at shops like LK Bennett and Laura Ashley is up. I can’t say it’s because of the market but it is at least happening in spite of it.”

The market runs from Wednesday to Saturday, while an arts and crafts market runs on Sundays, with a farmers market also in Winchester twice a month.

The report found Saturday and Wednesday’s markets were most popular, with 13,536 and 12,328 visitors per week respectively.