Watford's elected mayor believes the council “tried to please too many people” in its development of New Watford Market.

Traders, shoppers and opposition councillors have raised concerns about the location and design of the £2 million market since it was relocated from Charter Place to its new base in Watford House Lane in October.

Mayor Dorothy Thornhill told Watford Borough Council’s full council meeting she believes the authority tried too hard to please everyone and changes will need to be made to make it a success.

She told the Watford Observer: “I think we made the mistake of trying to please too many people by just transferring over the old market to the new site, as that hasn’t worked.

“It’s important to say there are some exciting stalls, with excellent offerings that are doing well, and the Italian market last week worked very well, but the stall mix will have to change and the operator, Town and County Markets, has recognised that. It’s a transition period – I am heartened by the footfall.

“There are people using it as a cut through and that at least helps traders, but let’s not do the new market down as that could put people off.”

Food trader Jason Lee submitted a petition to the council in January to have improved overhead covering and heaters installed in a bid to protect stall holders and shoppers from being battered by rain.

Mayor Thornhill said the heaters were being installed this week but she was not sure they would be a big factor.

She added: “I am happy to support the installation of heaters but there are outdoor markets up and down the country without them.”

The council has unveiled new-look signage for the market this week in a bid to attract new shoppers.

Conservative councillor Binita Mehta said: “The planning was not as meticulous as it should have been. It feels rushed and not planned thoroughly.

“The council is there to listen to residents and make things work for the greater good, so I don’t know why the mayor and the council were so dismissive of the concerns raised months ago.”

Councillor Nigel Bell, Labour leader, said the market was a big issue for residents and believes the council “now realises it made a mistake” with the location and when it was launched.

He added: “I hope it can be turned around, it’s Watford’s Charter Market and I know a number of traders really wanted to make a go of it, so we hope the funding will be provided to recover it.”

  • A number of Easter themed activities will be taking place at the market next weekend.

On Saturday, April 4, families will be able to take part in the market’s Animal Magic petting zoo, to meet and have pictures taken with rabbits, chickens, ducks and Tulula the goose, as well as take part in an Easter egg hunt and shop at the market’s Easter craft fair.

Two handlers will be present on the day for the petting zoo to give supervision, guidance and advice on caring for the animals.