‘MEDITERRANEAN-style’ markets could be heading to South Shields.
Stallholders may soon be off to the beach as radical new ways of reviving the shopping tradition are explored.
Council officers are attempting to look ‘outside the box’ in a bid to restore the market to its former glory.
And among plans being explored are specialised markets away from the town’s Market Place.
Colin Kennedy, the council’s central services manager, said: “When people go abroad and are lying on foreign beaches, they are used to market stalls nearby.
“We are looking at the potential of markets around our coastal areas.”
Also under consideration are stalls within the town’s Gypsies Green Stadium.
Meanwhile, traders have been warned of new legal moves which could endanger their livelihood.
A charter restricts any rival markets within ‘six and two-thirds of a mile’ from the Old Town Hall.
Mr Kennedy said: “This has protected the market rights against numerous challenges.”
But now the European Union is to set up a challenge to this ruling under the European Service Directive, which aims to create a free market.
Mr Kennedy added: “This would see the removal of legal and administrative barriers that hinder trade, to encourage cross border competition.
“This could see the market charter abolished, and would allow private individuals and other local authorities to set up alternative markets or car boot sales within a short distance of established markets.
“This would have a severe impact to trade and because of this, the National Association of British Market Authorities is seeking further legal advice on behalf of all charter markets.”
Attractions include arts and crafts markets and a book market in the summer.
Local arts groups will also continue to be able to use the Old Town Hall and market to exhibit art and sculpture work.
Farm and continental markets are earmarked for the middle of the year with Christmas events later in November and December.
Mr Kennedy added: “The market has operated within the town centre since the 1700’s and fits into the council’s current vision of South Tyneside as a great place to visit, work and do business.”