DEVIZES Town Council is to renew its bid to take over the ownership and running of the Market Place and the Shambles market hall from Wiltshire Council.

The town council first approached Kennet District Council in 2007 about the possibility of taking responsibility for the two market sites, but it was not possible to finalise it before Kennet disappeared into the new unitary authority in 2009.

Since then approaches to Wiltshire Council have proved less than fruitful despite the fact that Salisbury City Council runs the markets in its city centre.

That was until a recent Forward Planning session bet-ween the town council and Wiltshire Council, during which devolvement of local facilities was discussed and Wiltshire officers seemed open to discussion on the issue.

At a meeting of the town council’s community and civic resources committee on Tuesday evening, town councillors were keen to explore the situation.

Coun Pete Smith said: “I think this could be very good for the town. We should reapply for control of the Market Place and Shambles straight away.”

But Coun Ted East said: “It is very important we don’t commit ourselves until we fully understand the financial implications. We need to build a full business case before we go any further.”

Coun Charles Winchcombe proposed that the town council write to Wiltshire Council with a firm proposal to open negotiations.

Deputy town clerk Simon Fisher suggested councillors come up with a range of options for the takeover and elect a working party of councillors to look at them.

Councillors Ray Parsons, Ted East, Sue Evans and Peter Evans were selected.

The town council lost control of the Market Place and Shambles in the local government reorganisation in 1974.

Since then, Kennet District Council, then Wiltshire Council have run the markets and have had responsibility for the Market Place and Shambles, though the town council owns the Market Cross and Estcourt Fountain.

Coun Laura Mayes, chairman of the Devizes Area Board, said Wiltshire Council was enthusiastic about handing over the Market Place and the Shambles to the town council.

She said: “I think it is an excellent idea. The first meeting I had with council officers raised a lot of questions, though, and we will have to have lots of discussions about the details.”