SKIPTON market has been reduced to just two food stalls since the coronavirus lockdown, but both resolve to carry on for the sake of regular customers.

With the stalls being outdoors and a good distance apart, the social distancing rules can be adhered to.

Each stall has marked out separate zones to protect customers.

David Craig who stands on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays on the market, between 7.30am and 12.30pm, took over Lawson’s cheese stall about 14 months ago and has been steadily building up his local trade.

“I will carry on even though I’m not making much money. As long as I can make a wage for my son, I’m happy.

“For me it’s a case of honouring the local customers who have been buying their cheese from me, Around 20 per cent of my business has been from regular customers with the bulk from visitors, but even though the visitors can’t come, I still want locals to know I will be carrying on.”

Mr Craig, who travels from Colne, said he was going to start selling some choice fruit and vegetables from Wednesday as an extra service to his customers.

“We’ve just got to sit this out and hopefully build on the customer base we have so they carry on supporting us afterwards,” he said.

Fishmonger George Wilson, who has been standing on the market for 32 years said even during the foot and mouth epidemic, the town was nothing like this.

And despite selling earlier - now 7am instead of 8.30am because he doesn’t have the pubs and hotels’ orders to get ready - by the time his first customers arrive he has already done a day’s work.

George and his son-in-law, Nicky Jonas, are at Fleetwood docks at 2.30am to collect the latest catch to sell on Skipton market each Wednesday and Friday. He also stands at Settle on Tuesdays and Ulverston on Thursdays. Since the coronavirus hit, he has relied on his regular retail trade to keep him going.

“We’ve been okay really because we have a lot of regular customers who have bought from us for years. We know a lot by their first names. Foot and mouth was bad enough but (coronavirus) has been a lot, lot worse.”

“There was a great camaraderie among stall holders and with the shops. We buy our meat from Drake and Macefield and they buy their fish from us. If I want a newspaper or anything I’ll get it from the newsagent in Swadford Street. “Hopefully this pandemic will bring out the community spirit in people.”

Dave Parker, chief officer of Skipton Town Council confirmed there were just two remaining stalls on the market, the fish stall and the cheese stall, and how long they continued to operate would depend on their ability to re-stock.

He said the Monday market had been temporarily suspended and running the market on just three days allowed the council to manage staff hours as it was required to have a member of staff on duty whenever the market was in operation, even if there was just a single stall. The officer has to be in attendance to make sure proper social distancing measures are in place, and in case of any incident or emergency. The council is currently rotating its staff across each of the three days.

“Skipton Market is absolutely vital to our town – and it feels very strange not to have our usual busy market days. The Council is fully committed to its future and our team are working behind the scenes on marketing and publicity initiatives for both the market and the town itself to roll out as soon as possible once things start to return to normal. Although we don’t know how long that will be we will, in the meantime, continue to assist our traders as much as we can – including through the continued waiving of any market fees.”

He added while the council was not actively encouraging new traders at the current time, it was dealing with any new inquiries and would continue to do so.