VACANT stalls at Hexham’s weekly market should be offered free to university students wishing to start out in business.

This was a suggestion from Hexham Town Council during a discussion on how to stop the high rate of decline of the once thriving market.

During an update on Northumberland County Council’s market strategy at the recent Hexham Town Council meeting, Coun. Steve Ball said aspiring entrepreneurs should be given the opportunity to showcase their work at the local market. He said the addition of the students could help bring more people to the market, and the county council had nothing to lose as the stalls would remain unoccupied if they didn’t act.

Coun. Ball said: “We have great universities in the North-East and there are some very creative students looking to become young entrepreneurs. Just imagine how good it would be to feature fashion designers, and it would bring more people into Hexham.

“By bringing students into the market, the town could be thriving and we could even have musicians playing.”

On the back of the success of the royal visit from Prince Charles in September, there are plans to hold ‘Produced in Northumberland’ (PIN) markets on a more regular basis in Hexham. To coincide with the royal visit, a number of traders from the county council’s PIN initiative were invited to show their wares and the market was hailed a huge success.

Cath Homer, county councillor for Hexham East, said: “There are more than 100 fantastic traders in the Produced in Northumberland initiative and we’re looking to have regular markets in Hexham. Perhaps not every week, but maybe three or four a year.”