From the beginning of the month, Skipton Market became the joint responsibility of Skipton Town Council and Craven District Council.

The town council, which plans to take over full responsibility in a year, will undertake the day-to-day running, while Craven will remain the market authority.

The town will also be responsible for the promotion of the four-day-a-week market and getting it over to a wider audience.

The changeover period should mean a smooth transition and give the town council time to transfer the necessary by-laws.

So, what will it mean for the market – seen as a “jewel in Skipton’s crown” – both in the short and long term?

Will it remain unchanged? Will its new managers be content to let it rumble on? Will subtle changes be introduced or will the town council embark on a modernisation programme and breathe new life and vitality into the market?

The four-day-a-week market is no doubt a draw for many, but could it be a bigger draw? Is the current mix of stalls the right mix and could it be more exciting – and how difficult would it be to encourage more unique stallholders?

Dave Parker, chief officer of Skipton Town Council, said councillors would spend the next 12 months looking at an initial business plan.

“We shall also investigate ways we can improve the appearance, quality and vision of the market in the future,” he said.

“The town council recognises the importance of the market and its potential to be a real jewel in Skipton’s crown. We’ll be working closely with market traders and would welcome the views of local people and visitors.”

Mr Parker said one of the aims would be to better integrate the market into the rest of the town centre and to improve awareness as part of the general promotion of Skipton and its various events and festivals.

“This will also be reflected in the new partnership with Welcome to Yorkshire to ensure that the profile of Skipton Market is increased across the country,” he said.

The market currently runs on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

It is an ancient market run under a charter held by Skipton Castle and dating back to medieval times.

Current owner of the charter is Sebastian Fattorini, Lord of the Honour of Skipton.

“The market has existed since 1204 in the heart of the town and continues to play an integral part in Skipton today,” he said. “It has great potential and with the right care and good management, it should flourish long into the future.”

He added that it was important that Skipton maintained its individuality.

“With the onset of easy internet shopping for regular goods and the resulting collapse of cloned High Streets, niche shops, markets and other distinctive attractions will be vital for the town’s economic well-being.”

The town council, which has switched officers to take up new roles, will take on the nuts and bolts of the market.

It will have to check weather conditions and liaise with traders, the police and traffic wardens.

It will also be responsible for issuing waste bags, making sure all those trading have the permission of the market authority, enforcing market bylaws and trading rules and checking market stalls and sheets.

Other duties will include measuring the pitches and checking the space at the back of pitches is free of goods and stock is kept to the limit of pitches. Rights of access across the market must be unobstructed and the security and height of overhead cables must be checked for safety.

The town will also have to check trading rules are maintained throughout the day and officers will be responsible for the collection of payments. It will have to monitor the removal of trade waste and make sure pitches are left clean.

In addition, it will oversee parking on the setts, advising the public on restrictions and working with the police and traffic wardens on monitoring and enforcement and will take the appropriate action against anyone parking overnight on the market setts.

It will also be responsible for the promotion and awareness of the market and will act as a liaison on anything arising from the public or traders and the market authority.

The district council will remain market authority after Mr Fattorini extended its lease for another year.

Its responsibilities will be to issue consents to trade and maintain trader records. It will continue to manage and maintain market budgets, collect historic debts and negotiate payment terms.

Craven will undertake any enforcement action, resolve complaints from the public or traders and answer correspondence.

It will liaise with frontagers and traders and undertake any legal action.

Market cleansing and environmental health issues and liaising with other agencies will also be down to Craven.

Mr Parker added that changes could not happen overnight but in the short term the town council would be looking at setting up a new Skipton Market website.

“We’ll also have some additional resources on the street on market days to address any problems that arise and to start to look at some of the long standing issues associated with the market day in Skipton,” he said.

“In the meantime, we’ll be working with our colleagues at Craven District Council to ensure the transition between councils is as smooth as possible.”