A MARKET manager with a salary of around £30,000 is to be taken on by Devizes Town Council to attract more visitors to the town and make the centre more vibrant.

The new employee will be key to making plans to turn the Market Place into an events and community space a success.

This week as the row over the end to free car parking in the Market Place continued to rage the council voted to make the new appointment.

Town clerk Simon Fisher said: "This will be a very important appointment. We need someone who knows about how markets are run and can work with the stallholders but also someone who can come up with new ideas and attract different events to the town."

On Thursday evening the town council met with business owners whose shops are around the Market Place in an attempt to clear the air and to explain its position on the asset transfer from Wiltshire Council which would mean only disabled badge holders and taxis would be able to park in the square.

Mr Fisher said: "We had a very frank and open debate which provided an opportunity to listen to differing views and correct a lot of misinformation."

He said the council had made it clear that leaving things as they are is not an option. He said: "No-one likes change. I don't like having to pay for parking in Devizes either. But the truth is that the only options are either a paid-for car park or no parking."

He also warned that Wiltshire Council had not given up on the idea of bringing in Sunday parking charges and when it did there would not be enough free allocated parking for events such as the International Street Festival if the Market Place was a paid-for car park.

But the Devizes Future Market Place Group led by businessman Giles Morgan from Poulshot believes the town council has not listened to the views of shoppers and traders.

He pointed to a survey carried out by the group last week which had 66 responses from business owners. Of these 73 per cent said they thought their customers would pay to park in the Market Place. Of those who said yes just over half thought 30p for half an hour would be acceptable and around 40 per cent said 50p.

He said: "The town council is not listening to the views of traders or those who live here. The survey showed that more than 90 per cent thought parking should remain and that they would lose business if it is removed."

The town council is now to hold a meeting for all traders on Tuesday evening at 6pm in the Corn Exchange. In coming weeks the town council will set up a stall in the Market Place to show people ideas for how the Market Place can be used.