A VICTORIAN market will be held by council chiefs for the first time in Banbury to boost Christmas trade.

Cherwell District Council will host the event with market operator Sketts on Friday, December 7.

Shops are being encouraged to open late, set up stalls and dress in Victorian costumes for the 9.30am to 8pm event.

In a letter to traders, business development manager Karen Matthews said it is “in direct response to the suggestions from a number of traders to help bring footfall to the town and promote Banbury. We envisage this taking place on an annual basis.”

The authority has come under pressure to help firms weather the recession, including a petition calling for three hours’ free parking.

This month, it announced that fees will be waived in its car parks on Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays from December 1 to January 7.

But it said it could not afford the all-year-round concession.

Barry Whitehouse, chairman of the Old Town Association of traders, said: “It is good that the council is taking traders’ concerns to heart.”