Deputy leader accuses Northampton's market traders of not engaging with consultation on extra aisle

A row erupted in Market Square last month when it emerged only two traders voted through plans to introduce a second aisle, which some stallholders said would harm their businesses.
A row erupted in Market Square last month when it emerged only two traders voted through plans to introduce a second aisle, which some stallholders said would harm their businesses.

A feud over the future of Market Square has reached a new level after the councillor leading its steering group accused traders of refusing to take part in a consultation.

Last month stallholders in the square said they were left outraged when plans to create a second aisle among the stalls was voted through by just two business holders at a poorly attended summit. Many feel the new row will divert footfall away from their businesses.

Eight stallholders told the Chron they would not have voted for the plans.

Eight stallholders told the Chron they would not have voted for the plans.

Eight traders the Chronicle and Echo spoke to said they would have voted against the plans had they been able to make the steering group meeting chaired by deputy leader of Northampton Borough Council, Councillor Phil Larratt (Con, East Hunsbury).

But relations between the steering group chair and traders reached a new low at Monday night's full council meeting when Councillor Larratt said small business bosses in Market Square had only themselves to blame for not opposing the recent changes.

The comments prompted outrage from some of the stallholders present and a number of opposition councillors.

"The response was appalling," said Councillor Anamul Haque (Lab, Castle) who accused councillor Larratt of not listening to market traders during opposition business.

Councillor Enam Haque believes Councillor Larratt is ignoring the views of market traders.

Councillor Enam Haque believes Councillor Larratt is ignoring the views of market traders.

"None of the traders liked to hear it. Either he is ignorant or he doesn't want to listen."

Defending his response to the Chronicle and Echo afterwards, Councillor Larratt fanned the flames further.

"The fact is we discussed widening at the last market advisory group," he said.

"Everyone was given the opportunity to have their say on how they think the market should have been reconfigured.

Deputy Leader Councillor Phil Larratt claims traders had the opportunity to take part in a consultation on the extra aisle.

Deputy Leader Councillor Phil Larratt claims traders had the opportunity to take part in a consultation on the extra aisle.

"In fact, A4 plans of the market as it existed were made available to all the traders so they could draw their ideas on it.

"We didn't receive one response."

Councillor Larratt said he wanted to continue as chairman of the steering group, which will ultimately decide how money is spent in Market Square in the coming months.

But he said the council would look into the possibility of drafting an independent expert to lead negotiations on any future improvements.

But the chairman of the Market Action Group formed in 2012 to discuss ways of improvements in Market Square, Raymond Everall, believes Councillor Larratt has "marginalised" the voice of traders.

As if speaking directly to Councillor Larratt, he said: "Without notifying myself as the chair of a recognised working group voted on and approved by full

council more than five years ago... you have decided to marginalise the group and myself by closing down all contact in favour of your own perspective on how the market should work."