Traders angry at being moved out of Northampton’s Market Square during an £8.4 million reveamp will not have to pay pitch fees during the relocation.
West Northamptonshire Council (WNC) made the announcement today in a bid to appease market traders such as Eamonn ‘Fitzy’ Fitzpatrick who has launched a petition in protest against the move. So far he has more than 10,000 signatures.
Traders were told they would be moved to the Commercial Street car park during the transformation work.
In a statement, WNC said: “As we enter Love Your Local Market, running from today (May 13) to June 5, we’re encouraging people to head to Market Square and discover great produce and services like fresh fruit and veg, beautiful flowers, clothing and key cutting.”
The council had previously come under fire after criticising the market in papers submitted for planning approval for the revamp.
The statement says the new market will be condensed to just 18 permanent stalls instead of more than 100 “low quality” stalls it has now.
The statement went on to say that the Market Square is in decline and that “betting shops have become a hotspot for anti social behaviour” and the “congregation of homeless people”.
The council says the market now costs taxpayers £180,000 a year to run, rather than making a profit as it has done in the past.
The council spokesperson added: “The relocation is necessary as construction work, additional traffic, noise, dust and disturbance make it impractical to keep the market on the square during the redevelopment.
“Once the work is complete, there will be scope for Market Square to be used for a variety of events as well as being a catalyst in attracting new businesses and opportunities to the town. We’ve just asked what people would like to see there, and results of that survey will be made public soon.
“A number of potential options for moving the market were considered, including a variety of locations in Abington Street, Wood Hill, the Grosvenor Shopping centre.
“Commercial Street was the only option which allowed the entire market to remain together as splitting it up would have resulted in lower footfall to the separate sites, which we believe may have impacted on the long-term sustainability of the market,” the spokesperson said.
Councillor Jonathan Nunn leader of West Northamptonshire Council said they had been speaking regularly with traders.
“We honestly believe that there is an opportunity for traders in temporarily moving to a new location which offers high visibility and should bring their wares to the attention of a much wider audience.
“Of course, we know that the traders have many loyal customers, and we hope those customers will continue to support the market once it moves. In fact, we’re looking at a number of ways we might be able to help on that front.
“The whole purpose of moving the market is so we can improve the square, delivering a much better experience for visitors to our town centre, and that includes a much better market for both visitors and for the traders themselves.”