Another Positive Perspective 

One of the great things about being involved in promoting Banbury is that you get to know lots of other people who share our perspective.

They also have the view that Banbury has lots to offer and a latent potential ready to be realised, if only people were to accentuate the positives rather than to dwell on the areas to improve (which town doesn’t have those).
One of those people is US expat Deborah Menikoff Simmons who blogs about all sorts of wonderful things Banbury-based. 
Here is Deb’s great blog page – give it a good read because it is a good read!

Blogging about Banbury 
Blog & biog photo credits: Deborah Menikoff Simmons / Neil Simmons


Destination Banbury’s Old Town S1/E2 – Comic Connections

Part two of today’s mini-series of blogs is about another cool destination store in Banbury. 

Comic Connections is a little hidden away in Parsons Street in Banbury but they are really worth seeking out.

Importantly, they are there every week, selling something which people travel from miles around to buy.
We recently visited to take photos and to talk with Glyn the owner, who is a real aficionado and so passionate about his shop, his products and most importantly his customers – not to mention being a big supporter of Banbury.

In readiness for Comic Connections’ biggest and busiest day of the year, Free Comic Book Day, we have been to take some photos and to get a feel for this great retail experience; I am now desperately resisting my youthful pass time of getting back into reading 2000AD & Judge Dredd as nothing else will get done if I start again !! 

 But take a look around for yourselves with this virtual tour   

Then #VisitBanbury tomorrow to pick up your free comic books and look out on the Facebook page for a very special scavenger hunt being launched at 10am tomorrow morning.  

Banbury Market Part 2

Further to the first part of this blog which was about the market itself, now some simple (home) economics….. 

As some of you may know, my background is 22 years as a Corporate Procurement professional and Process Change Project Manager. 

That makes me very much a facts and data guy ! (I will not mention how many stalls are currently on the market versus the numbers quoted on the CDC / Sketts websites in part 1 of this blog). 

Therefore, what I want to do in the rest of this blog is to show you the technique which is used a lot in procurement known as benchmarking, or comparing like for like, or as you might say comparing “apples for apples” – as we going to do exactly that. 

One of the main stalls on Banbury market is a fruit and veg stall near the Druckers entrance to Castle Quay. On Saturday my wife and I went and bought apples, pears, clementines, an iceberg lettuce and tomatoes from that stall, as we regularly do. 

As part of the online debates people often say that the market is too expensive or you can buy the produce elsewhere cheaper, and when my wife said £1.20 for an iceberg lettuce was very expensive in relation to Tesco for instance I decided to validate or otherwise her observation.

So I just wanted to do a small comparison to show the cost of the products we bought and what we got for that cost versus the costs I can find in some major supermarkets around the town. 

This comparison obviously does not take into account the taste or the perceived quality but at least it shows how much you get and for what price and whether that fruit and veg stall is actually expensive in relation to other places where you can buy fruit and veg.

These prices were the full prices before the end of day “£1 per bowl” discounting started.

So to start – tomatoes – some retailers might call these vine tomatoes?

We paid £1.50 for a bowl of 12 tomatoes which weighed 930g. So the equivalent to £1.61 per kilo. Then onto the iceberg lettuce, which seemed quite large and dense in comparison to a small one I saw later in the day at the local Co-op convenience store which was 90p (but I don’t know how much it weighed so cannot compare it here).

We paid £1.20 for a lettuce which weighed 495g. So the equivalent to £2.42 per kilo.

 Conference pears £1.50 for 8 of them weighing 1.29kg or £1.16 per kilo. Clementines next – £1.50 for a bowl of 16 weighing 900g or £1.66 per kilo. My main observation here is that most of them were very small, hence why we got 16 in the 900g we bought .   Finally Gala apples, which we purchased 12 of, weighing 1.24kg, for a price of £1.50 or £1.21 per kilo.

The total cost for these items in Banbury Market was £7.20.

I then went online to Tesco’s online grocery  service and I priced up the same basket of items via Tesco as we had bought from Banbury market. In each case where a number of options were available at Tesco I have selected the lowest cost per kilo item.

Where possible I have compared exactly the same weight but most of these are approximate weights, slightly lower than the weights we bought in the market. You will see from the photo extract below that the price per kilo of each item is detailed on the right hand side.  The only item which was cheaper at Tesco was the iceberg lettuce and so based on this, my wife was correct (which is not unusual!).

The total cost for these items in Tesco was £10.17. 

However, overall, the five items from Tesco were £2.97 more than the Banbury market fruit and veg stall or 41% more expensive (£2.97/£7.20). 

Alternatively you could say that on these 5 items Banbury Market overall was 29% cheaper than Tesco (£2.97/£10.17).

I am aware that people will say that if you add the cost of parking in town to the cost of these items, then Tesco is probably cheaper, but I also took into account the fact with online shopping you have to pay for delivery so for this comparison I have ignored these costs and also I am aware that people will probably buy more than just these five items in one single supermarket shop, but this is just a small basket of goods as an illustration of comparable prices.


I am also aware that other supermarkets such as Sainsbury’s and Aldi exist in Banbury and once I’m able to collect their price data I will add these to this blog, but for the time being you can see that actually Banbury market is cheaper for these five items than going to Tesco.

Hope this helps.

Banbury Market – Part 1

***This blog was started on Saturday before the current strongly opinionated threads on fb started. I decided to cut this into 2 posts so that I could post this part early, in order to try to put some light on the debate rather than more heat by replying in the fb threads***


A major point of discussion

Since starting Visit Banbury a little over a year ago on Twitter, one subject seems to have been the topic of discussion more than any other – and that is Banbury Charter Market.

Now obviously, given that Banbury is widely known as an historic market town and coach parties even stop here to visit it amongst the various other tourist highlights, it is probably not surprising that locals and visitors have lots of viewpoints and provide much commentary as to the size, variety, quality and choice of the market and the stalls which are part of it and how it compares to 1, 10 or 30 years ago.

Whilst individual members of the Visit Banbury team may have personal views one way or another about the market, as an organisation, Visit Banbury fully endorses Banbury having a thriving local market and we see that a vibrant market is one way to attract more shoppers and visitors to the town and to keep locals interested in coming in and staying around town for longer.

We have worked hard to promote the existing market via social media channels and will continue to do so, as we see the market as a key foundation of potentially a memorable customer experience if it is done well.

However, listening to lots of people and reading lots of posts on social media it seems that many people do not really understand about the market, how it is run and who is responsible for it AND actually what the costs are, how you go about getting a stall etc etc, so we want to try to explain a few things (based solely on our research and understanding the facts), share some useful info and also do a little bit of economic analysis (which will now be in part 2).

We believe a key role for Visit Banbury could be finding out about the town and sharing that information with the general public (except where we agree to confidentiality of course – we are ethical) as we feel that often key information is not that well disseminated, so that people can form informed opinions and make informed, objective decisions when things are proposed and we can all positively build on the potential that Banbury has.

We will try to do this in some key areas in coming months.

Banbury Market Information Share


So, first of all, the background to Banbury Charter Market, which is held on a Saturday and a Thursday every week 9am – 4.30pm.

 A little bit of historic perspective on the Banbury Charters which appear to give Banbury the RIGHT to have a market but do not OBLIGE Banbury to have one…an interesting and important distinction. (thanks to Deb Menikoff Simmons for this link).

The overall responsibility for the market lies with Cherwell District Council and the Street Scene department run by Paul Almond with Ian Cooper working for him.

These gents effectively manage the market activity BUT a little over 5 years ago Cherwell District Council ran a commercial tender process for a commercial company to run the market as a subcontractor (market operator) on CDC’s behalf and the winner of that process was E.G. Skett & Co. also know as Sketts, who according to also operate the retail markets in Southam & Great Bridge as well as monthly Warwickshire Farmers’ Markets in Solihull, Harborne and Coventry. 

Their own website also shows where they have recently lost the contracts to provide market operations:!A-farewell-to-Warwick-Leamington-and-Kenilworth/c1if0/DC63C29B-7913-4B90-93E8-31787F392379

The initial 5 year contract term for Banbury Market expired at the end of March 2015 but we understand from CDC that they took up the option which was within the contract to extend with Sketts for a further 2 years without going back “out to market”(checking / benchmarking with other potential operators), so that contract will finally expire on 31/3/2017.

The information about the contract was found on line 9 of this spreadsheet and a tweet from CDC confirmed the extension; interestingly no contract value is noted on the register.

The following document link is a very important one as it is dated 2010 and was looking at the future of markets in Cherwell and details the criteria used in judging the tender responses and awarding the contract as well as some of the key objectives CDC had for working with the current market operator, which we the public should hence refer to when objectively reviewing the market as it stands in 2015, with the operator just having been given a two year contract extension. 

The following is a key extract from the above link   We have been unable to obtain a response to questions raised as to the decision-making process for the optional extension period being taken up by CDC but Ian Middleton, PPC for The Green Party, obtained this reply:

“The licence was for 5 years with a 2 year option, which the council have taken up. Sketts have not failed to deliver on the terms of the licence, and therefore have not given any cause not to renew. 

The market shouldn’t be judged in isolation from the rest of the businesses in town who have been adversely affected by changing shopping patterns, and Sketts have always engaged in dialogue with CDC and stakeholders on how to improve Banbury`s footfall for the benefit of everyone.

As previously stated the weekly markets face more competition nowadays and despite bringing in new traders they have not always been able to retain them. 

In order to help businesses succeed we all need to give a positive impression of the town and market.”



 Often, social media discussions ask about the cost of a stall at Banbury market. As far as we had been told it is £36 per day for a normal one table stall, however one trader we recently spoke with advised that on 1st April the fees went up by £1 to £37 stating that this was a compulsory increase that Sketts had to implement as part of their contract with CDC.

We have not been able to validate this comment but he told us that Sketts had told him that.

(If Sketts or CDC wish to challenge / correct this we would be happy to remove or amend the above paragraph.)

He also cited the lack of parking as an additional cost to traders as they have to park in pay car parks which is not always the case elsewhere.

Apparently the market in Bicester (run by traders themselves) is significantly cheaper (circa £15) and we have also heard that one table market stalls elsewhere at larger markets are less than £30 each per day.

Sketts do provide Charity and Community groups with stalls free of charge and we at Visit Banbury have twice set up stall recently to show our support for Banbury Market to see for ourselves what it is like to trade in Banbury and to get our messages out and to sell some lovely Visit Banbury merchandise which helps provide us with funds to do projects around Banbury, so thanks to Sketts for those opportunities.

Sketts want to bring new, exciting, innovative stalls into Banbury Market and so if you are interested in having a stall Janeanne Peachey is the Banbury Market Manager, employed by Sketts. 


You can call Sketts on 01789 267000 or see

Sketts’ Trading conditions:,0,0,0,0.html

Hope this helps in furthering an informed debate around the town. Part 2 to follow shortly this week.

Promoting Community in Banbury

Hello ! One of the core values upon which the Visit Banbury project is based is Community.

Many of us in the project team have been involved in building a strong, cohesive community in a Queens Road, Banbury and so we thought “why keep it to ourselves?”.

So, the Visit Banbury team is actively promoting 2 nationwide initiatives which will help people get to know their neighbours and to build strong, resilient communities.

These initiatives are The Big Lunch 

and Streetbank 

and we have set up local Banbury Facebook pages to share ideas, offer help and to encourage and enthuse.

So, be brave, take the first step & #getinvolved !

Great things happening in Banbury

Quick Edit as these two events are happening again in 2016.

The Banbury Health and Vitality Show is taking place this Saturday 5th March and the Banbury CAG Give and Take and More event happens on Saturday 12th March so you will be able to attend both this time !

Get along, get involved and support local groups doing great things.


Yesterday was a really good example of the growing number of positive, community-based activities that are going on in and around Banbury.

Two specific groups held events in Banbury which showcased the environmental, community and health & wellbeing possibilities for Banbury residents to get involved in and enjoy.

At the New Futures Centre (aka The Hub) by the Woodgreen Leisure Centre Sarah Sienkiewicz curated a six hour long exhibition with a diverse selection of healthcare and lifestyle providers to showcase what is available locally for those searching to improve their health and wellbeing at the Banbury Health & Vitality Show 2015.

Not only did this event promote the wellbeing of Banbury residents, it also provided a perfect opportunity for a fundraiser, with funds going to the Banbury Youth Homeless Project, BYHP.

Elsewhere in town, at the Methodist Church, the Banbury Community Action Group (BCAG) were holding their Give or Take and More event.


Approximately 160 visitors came through the door to pick up a free item which someone no longer needed or to drop off an unwanted item which someone else could make use of. Clothes, small electrical goods, DVDs, books, games and housewares were all donated and taken away by new owners.

In addition Cherwell DC’s recycling team, Banbury Freegle, Banbury Fairtrade, Banbury Community Organisers and Affordable Warmth were all on hand to provide advice and information to visitors looking for recycling, environmental, energy efficiency and community information.

We were also able to attend as Visit Banbury to explain more about the project and to show the “Be Positive About Banbury” video. Happily we got a good level of interest and hopefully some of those people will attend the Public Meeting we are holding at the Town Hall in Banbury on Thursday 12/3 at 7.30pm.

Finally, a new initiative, Streetbank was being promoted. This is a national website which encourages community cohesion by sharing skills and goods.

It has not really taken off in Banbury and so the BCAG and Visit Banbury are working together to promote and encourage Banbury residents to join up, put sharing items onto the site and start to contact others in their areas. Take a look, sign up, start sharing and building your communities.

When people say there is nothing going on in Banbury they obviously are not looking hard enough ! Next weekend is also a very busy one with multiple events happening on Friday and Saturday.

Happy Valentine’s Day Banbury

A gift from Visit Banbury to show Banbury how much we love you !


Thanks to

The lovely music is
Not Walkin’ Away by Emily Hearn: