City councillors are seeking the return of historic assets to the City’s control. They include the Market Place, the Bishop’s Barn and the Recreation Ground. The running of them was transferred to Mendip District Council at its creation as part of a Local Government reorganisation in 1974.

Mendip now faces being absorbed in a bigger authority – either by merging with South Somerset District Council or a single county-wide unitary council – and Mendip’s leader says they are happy for the City Council to take back control of the historic Bishop’s Barn and adjoining Recreation Ground. They are now managed by a Mendip-controlled trust with about £470,000 in the bank which would come with the assets. Negotiations will start shortly. The costs that come with the assets are for maintenance and refurbishment. The historic tithe barn is very rarely used and needs an interior makeover to develop it as a venue for, perhaps, exhibitions and performances.

The ambition for Wells Market Place is to make more of it, now that it is no longer a pay and display car park, and develop a continental or ‘café quarter’ feel to the space for the delight of locals and visitors alike. To keep it car-free, Somerset Highways and Mendip will have to make permanent what started as a trial scheme.