MALTON’S counting feet – to help boost the market town’s economy.

Pedestrian counting sensors, known as footfall counters, have been installed in key areas to provide a way of measuring the level of activity in the town.

Jane Wilford, chairman of Malton and Norton Area Partnership, said: “It, in turn, will give an indication of Malton’s health as a retail and service centre.

“As the data builds up, this will help businesses and decision makers understand how the town is faring as the economic climate changes.”

Coun Wilford said the information will be particularly useful in assessing the effects of any future town centre improvements and developments, as well as measuring how successful planned events are at drawing people into the town.

The first major event that the counters covered was the Malton Food Festival earlier this month.

The project has been funded by Ryedale District Council, in partnership with Yorkshire Forward and the Fitzwilliam Estate. The counters have been installed in the Market Place, Wheelgate and on the exit to Water Lane car park.

Coun Wilford, welcoming the initiative, said: “It will be interesting to see what picture of Malton is painted by the counters – it’s a great town with lots of potential. “Hopefully these counters will prove that events – like the continental market last year and the food festival – bring in a lot of trade for the town’s businesses.”

Denys Townsend, chairman of Malton and Norton Business in Action, said: “A number of businesses are now feeling the pinch caused by the current economic climate and there is a lot of activity going on in the public arena and behind the scenes to revitalise the shopping and visitor attractions of the town. “These statistics will help enormously in deciding what increases visitor numbers and what does not.”

Weekly reports from Experian Footfall, the company contracted to provide and monitor the counters, will be posted on the Ryedale District Council website.

A spokesman for RDC said the data would not represent a total number of people visiting the town.

“Not everyone walking around town will be counted. “Equally, the counters cannot identify whether an individual is a resident or a visitor to the town, or whether they have already been picked up on one of the other counters. The data does, however, provide a quantitative indicator of the overall level of activity on the key pedestrian routes within the town.”