'Fitzy' urges public to back Northampton's market traders as discussions continue around stall locations during redevelopment

"We have still got a long way to go. It's still a battle. We need to talk to as many people as possible. We need the public behind us on this."

Wednesday, 17th November 2021, 4:53 pm
Updated Wednesday, 17th November 2021, 4:54 pm

A veteran Northampton market trader has called on the public to back his campaign to stay on site during an £8 million revamp of the town centre after the council agreed to consider it.

It was announced by West Northamptonshire Council (WNC) last month (October) that traders will be moved out of the Market Square for up to two years while Northampton town centre undergoes a £8.4 million regeneration.

Work is expected to start next year with a target completion date of March 31, 2024.

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Veteran market trader Eamonn 'Fitzy' Fitzpatrick is against the initial plans and has been lobbying the council to keep traders on site, and he believes he is making progress.

He said: "It's one of their options they are looking at [to keep traders on site]. Before, it was their way or the highway. But WNC has done a U-turn, in my opinion.

"It was a silly idea in the first place [to move the market traders]. It put the fear of God into us us all. We don't want to move off the market. It would have finished us off.

"I'm pleased they are listening, but it's up to the public now. WNC is going to do a consultation again next month (December).

Fitzy runs a fruit and veg stall on the Market Square

"I will make sure it's done properly this time. Only 1,000 people were asked last time online - that was flawed. People that use the market are not online. The council has got to talk direct to the people on the market."

Following a meeting last night that saw market traders meet up with the council to talk about the potential options, Fitzy said he left feeling confident of staying on the market.

He said: "Lizzy Bowen [from WNC], I think she realises what it means to us to go off the market.

"They seemed to have got the message. They are talking to us. I am confident of staying on the market but I take nothing for granted.

"The public have got to back the market traders if they want us to stay on the market. I will do what I can to help with the consultation.

"We have still got a long way to go. It's still a battle. We need to talk to as many people as possible. We need the public behind us on this."

A petition has also been started by local historian Mike Ingram to help influence the market's future, which has got more than 1,200 signatures already.

The petition reads: "We want our Market Square to remain a fully open space without new permanent or temporary structures, be it random seating or stalls.

"The square should be celebrated and remain the largest enclosed market square in England.

"The buildings around the outside should be cleaned up and restored and all the listed buildings marked as such.

"The Market Square cannot be closed during any renovations as this will destroy the market which was given by Royal Charter and has run uninterrupted since 1235 (even during earlier renovations)."

A WNC spokesman said it is still considering a 'range of options'.

The spokesman said: “We are still considering a range of options for location of the market when the work takes place.

"During our meeting with the traders this week we said we would consider that their preferred option was to remain on the square during the work, but we have not yet confirmed our arrangements around this."

Cllr Lizzy Bowen, from WNC and in charge of the revamp, said more detailed plans are being drawn up and that the council is working with Museum of London Archaeology and Historic England. The public's views will also 'heavily inform' the final plans, she said.