A NEW-look market is to be launched in a County Durham town next month after two new operators came forward.

Durham County Council has awarded contracts to run Friday and Saturday markets in Chester-le-Street to The Craft Fair Company and Events2gogo.

The markets will run from 9am to 4pm each week from Friday, 2 August, with local traders offering a variety of goods including local produce, handcrafts, cakes and bakes, street foods and collectables.

Councillor Brian Stephens, council cabinet member for neighbourhoods and local partnerships, said: “We are delighted to have found new operators for Chester-le-Street market.

“Markets can be incredibly important to a town’s economy but also often play a key part in community life so it’s great news that traders are set to return to Chester-le-Street, not just once a week but every Friday and Saturday.

“Both Events2gogo and the Craft Fair Company have a proven track record for running popular, busy markets elsewhere in the region so I am sure we can look forward to a vibrant, successful future for Chester-le-Street.

“With work ongoing to relocate and rejuvenate the market area as part of the flood prevention improvements, people can look forward to a much-improved market offer.”

Events2gogo, which will run the market on the first Friday and Saturday of every month, currently operates markets in north east towns including Sunderland and Hartlepool.

Fiona Harnett, of Events2gogo, said: “We are very keen to breathe new life into Chester-le-Street, where the market has a rich heritage of being one of the best in the area. It is our aim to bring the market back to the good old days – a market to be proud of. Chester-le-Street is on the up, and we want to join in on its successes.

“For our launch weekend, we will have everything from breads and cheeses, to collectables and antiques, with a range of beautifully made, baked and market goods in between. Mixing new with traditional, it is important to showcase what established and new traders have to offer.”

The Craft Fair Company, which will run Chester-le-Street market the remaining Friday and Saturday of every month, also operates a number of other markets in the region and has a retail base in the town’s St Cuthbert’s Walk.

Teresa Symington, of the Craft Fair Company, said: “We are very excited to have been given the opportunity to organise and bring Chester-le-Street market back to life. We will be working towards bringing in new traders and also looking after the traders who have been involved in the traditional market for years."

Her colleague, Deborah Price, said: “We are based in the local area so our main focus as organisers is to bring Chester-le-Street market up to an expected standard for traders as well as the public. Taking into consideration both the public and market traders, we are aim to bring a good of variety of handcrafted goods, foods, gifts, upcycled products, household items, garden goods and and much more –creating a vibrant feel good market.

Mick Rodgers chair of the Chester-le-Street Area Action Partnership (AAP) town centre task group said: “Chester-le-Street has always been a proud market town and I’m sure local people will welcome this exciting change to the market offer.

"This project is the culmination of a lot of work by the AAP working with the council’s environmental health and consumer protection team to develop a brief for a new market offer. I’d encourage everyone to back the new operators and come down to support your local market.”