Market plan takes a big step forward

Vicky Macdonald next to the Paolozzi statue

Vicky Macdonald next to the Paolozzi statue

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a NEW Sunday market offering food, crafts and clothing is set to be established in Edinburgh – and it will also benefit charities in the city.

The market by the Picardy Place roundabout was trialled for five weeks during the summer by organiser Vicky MacDonald, who is now applying for planning permission to hold it regularly.

Edinburgh Markets would see up to 19 stalls set up on the plaza outside St Mary’s Cathedral every Sunday from March to August, with special festival and Christmas markets running on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturday and Sundays in August and December.

If it is successful, Ms MacDonald hopes to run several markets across the city, all operating as social enterprises.

Some stalls would be run by businesses, which would pay more, subsidising other stalls run by charities.

The charities would use the stalls to make money to boost their work, and it is hoped that the market as a whole would also generate an income that could be used to run charitable projects, such as work training for the recently homeless and performances by community groups.

Ms MacDonald said she decided to set up the market when she experienced first-hand the effect of funding cuts on charities, losing her job as a charity events organiser.

She said: “When it was too difficult to find another job, I thought I’d try and start something else that would help charities to make money.

“I’m an English girl and in England there are markets everywhere and I’ve always been surprised there aren’t more in Edinburgh.

“There’s the farmer’s market and special events like the Christmas market, but there wasn’t anything that I’d consider a community market which isn’t just selling organic goods, but your bog-standard fruit and veg and things you’d buy on a weekly basis.”

She received some support with start-up costs from the city council and Scotland UnLtd, and said the summer trial had been successful, with stalls from charities including the British Heart Foundation and Sikh Sanjog.

She said: “Some people were doing awareness raising, but most of them were selling something. There’s a lot of organisations in Edinburgh that sell their own produce, like the Cyrenians and Edinburgh Community Food, so they were selling produce, and from the businesses we had a mixture of food and arts and crafts and clothes.”

Ms MacDonald believes the plaza had been under-used in the past.

She said: “I’ve always been fascinated by that space because of the beautiful Paolozzi statues and I always think it’s a shame it’s not more fully used.

“It’s very busy with people passing through. I thought it would be great to transform it into a community space.”

sgyford@edinburghnews.com