A THREE month trial has started to head off the row between market traders and Winchester High Street shops.

Council chiefs have been trying to defuse the dispute after it surfaced in the summer.

Market traders have been enjoying a bumper trade since being allowed to expand their pitches into the High Street.

But the council-backed move, which could raise £60,000 per year for the authority, has angered existing shops.

Some have seen trade decline with pitches packed outside the doors, holding up shoppers and deliveries.

The council has now proposed some ideas to allow vendors and shopkeepers to co-exist without harming trade.

The first is to limit the number of pitches in the section running east from the Upper Brook Street junction to 14.

Around 20 often appear there, but some will now be moved further up the High Street past the Buttercross.

Another idea is to introduce a theme to each daily market, and to restrict the number of trading days.

The vendors currently operate every Wednesday to Saturday and on a few Sundays too.

The council is proposing cutting one of the days, possibly Thursday, to give the High Street shops a respite.

Other ideas include new rules that vendors should be smartly dressed and their products must be high quality.

Chris Turner, executive director of Winchester Business Improvement District, welcomed the proposals.

He said the changes would satisfy many of retailers, but a few might still have concerns.

“The council will be speaking to residents and traders, so now we’ll just have to wait and see what happens over the next three months,” he said.

The council’s cabinet was poised to back the three-month trial yesterday (Wednesday) as the Chronicle went to press.

If approved, the trial will take place before the council will again review the decision to allow market pitches in the High Street.

The vendors had previously been based in Middle Brook Street, where the footfall is lower.