MARKET traders are queuing up for a spot in Chippenham’s centre since lockdown rules were eased.

Eight new applicants are vying for a slice of the shopping frenzy as people flock to the town centre after three months of lockdown.

But their applications are on hold until the council gets to grips with new hygiene measures.

The town’s new Mayor, Cllr Teresa Hutton was out and about at the weekend.

She said: “It is lovely to see people in the town and I am really pleased how many have opened up.

“Not all of them have, but hopefully in time. It is now up to us to support our high streets. We have all got a bit used to internet shopping!”

She said the council is now turning its attention to social distancing on pavements.

“I’ve been through Emery Gate and they have got a one-way system and we have turned some of our market stalls around so they are not facing the pavements,” she said.

“We have got our markets manager on site today and she is observing how the flow is working, so I think this will be something that we are continually looking at.”

Local independent shops say the first week back in business has been good.

Tamsin Williams of gift shop Paprika said: “We have been really well supported by the local community. Obviously coming back on Monday we were a bit apprehensive but the wonderful thing is that we had so many of our regulars come by even if it was to pop their heads round to say hi.

“We're happy how it is going. People have been buying lots of lovely bits for their home and have really taken advantage of time at home to have a clear out of all the old things.”

Kate Andersen said: “Our customers have said they have really missed us. I think a lot of it has been about socialising as well. A huge part of it has been just being able to get out. But it has had a huge impact on the business and we missed out on Mother's Day and Easter which are big for us. But hopefully, people will keep coming back.”

Aaron Gale and Gemma Ward are the owners of Outfit 78, an independent store for men's clothing which has been going for three years.

“It has been really good. People are just keen to get out shopping,” said Gemma. “We have loyal customers who have helped us during lockdown with online orders. They can’t try clothes on but they can bring stuff back. Everyone so far as been very positive.”

One of their customers agreed. Naomi Horne from Chippenham was out shopping with her husband, in his favourite shop.

Grabbing a pair of shorts off the rail she said: “It’s great they are open again. We supported them in lockdown, but we are in here today and I think my husband wants to buy everything!”