A veteran trader says he is now ready to hand over a 10,000-strong petition to 'save the Market Square' to the leader of Northampton's council.
Fruit and vegetable vendor Eamonn 'Fitzy' Fitzpatrick has had 10,000 people sign his petition to stop the market from being temporarily moved to Commercial Street car park for two years.
Fitzy set the physical petition up on his stall back in March after West Northamptonshire Council (WNC) announced Commercial Street car park as their preferred site for the market once an £8.4million revamp of the Market Square gets under way in August.
Three months and more than 10,000 signatures later, Fitzy now wants to hand his petition over to WNC leader Jonathan Nunn on the steps of The Guildhall in the town centre.
Fitzy said: "The ball's in his court now. I want to finish this petition now. I've got an absolute stack of signatures.
"I want to thank everyone who has signed it. It's a victory for local democracy in a way and I'm very grateful for the backing of the people of Northampton."
Asked what the general feeling among people who have signed the petition is, Fitzy said: "It's still the same feeling. People think it's heartless. They can't understand why we are being moved down there and why can't we be moved to Abington Street. I can't answer their questions. It's a shame."
The council held its own consultation where it asked 1,000 people for their thoughts on the Market Square plans.
In response to this, Fitzy said: "WNC got 1,000 people to respond to their consultation, that speaks for itself. I've had over 10,000.
"WNC is listening to the wrong people again, the consultants, these yes men in suits. WNC has listened to us but they haven't taken any notice. WNC can't ignore 10,000 people, can they?"
When does Fitzy want to hand the petition to Councillor Nunn? "As soon as I can," he said.
WNC has not yet responded to this newspaper's request for comment regarding meeting with Fitzy.
Cllr Daniel Lister, in charge of the Market Square plans, previously told this newspaper: “The council agrees with residents and businesses who believe the market is an important part of Northampton’s past, present and future.
"That is why we are investing millions of pounds of public money in a project to make the most of what we have and to give more people a reason to travel into our town centre. That includes high quality stalls for the traders.
"Doing nothing would have almost certainly continued the downward trend of historic markets which is seen across the country due to changing shopping habits.
"We believe Northampton’s beautiful and vibrant town centre has unrealised potential and would urge everyone to get behind our plans, help build upon that investment and give the town the future it deserves.”
Work is expected to start on the Market Square in August, with a target completion date of March 31, 2024.
In its plans, the council said the new market will be condensed to just 18 permanent stalls instead of more than 100 “low quality” stalls it has now.