Northampton's market traders speak out about their 'terrible' 'Groundhog Day' existence in quiet car park

"It's gone from bad to worse. It's disgraceful.”
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Four ‘forgotten-about’ Northampton traders have spoken out about their ‘terrible’ ‘Groundhog Day’ existence nine months after being moved off of the Market Square.

Traders are halfway through their stint down at their temporary location in Commercial Street and are expected to return to the Market Square in Summer 2024, when £10m refurbishment works are complete.

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However, until then, it continues to be a struggle for traders to survive, with many complaining of low footfall and a lack of beneficial help from West Northants Council.

Hung Vo (left) and Nick Walters (right)Hung Vo (left) and Nick Walters (right)
Hung Vo (left) and Nick Walters (right)

Hung Vo, who runs the biggest fruit and veg stall on the market, has recently returned to work after taking six weeks off in his homeland of Vietnam.

He said: "The trade is no good. I went away for a few weeks because it cost me more to stand and staff. I made a mistake coming back. It's ridiculous. If I knew the situation was like this, I would have taken another month off. The council isn't helping at all. At the end of the day, they [WNC councillors] still get paid; I'd like to see them work a month without getting paid.

"I don't get why they've spent so much money on entertainment here [to attract more footfall], nobody came. Why couldn't they help us financially instead of wasting money on entertainment?"

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Lesley Rutherford, who runs a key cutting service, said it feels like ‘Groundhog Day’.

He said: "Nothing's really changed. It feels like Groundhog Day every day. Nothing ever changes, and it's not going to. It will be exactly the same until we go up to the Market Square. It's depressing. It's been a very stressful year. We've been down here nine months now. It's halfway now. We'd be busy for Christmas up there [Market Square] but not down here. We'll keep plodding along at this pace. As long as people keep using us, we've got a chance. There's light at the end of the tunnel, at least, because they're getting there [with the Market Square works]. Fingers crossed we're back there by Summer 2024."

Nick Walters, who runs M&G Butchers, called the situation "disgraceful."

He said: "It's gone from bad to worse. It's disgraceful. We've been in business since 1976 serving the Northampton public and we've been shoved into a corner. It's disgraceful. Terrible. Forgotten about. It affects everything: your health, home, everything. Disgusting."

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Mick Andreoli, who runs a fruit and vegetable stall, echoed his peers' views.

He said: "Less people come, fewer traders stand. It's become a domino effect. We've got no traders, no people. It's very disheartening. I feel let down. Fed up. They sit on their backsides and think they know the answers to everything."

In a recent report, councillor Daniel Lister, in charge of the Market Square project, said ongoing progress is being made, including new paving, central area preparations, and the commencement of water feature works.

Once complete, the Market Square will feature new permanent market stalls for traders, ‘high-quality’ seating and planting, a flexible event space, and a new water feature, according to WNC.

WNC has been contacted for comment.

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