Northampton market trader calls for council to find a solution to what he says is a 'diabolical' situation in 'death row' car park

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“We’re struggling down here. I don’t know how much longer we can carry on”

A Northampton market trader is calling on the council to “find a solution” to what he says is the “diabolical” situation they find themselves in.

Fruit and vegetable vendor Dave Dunkley has criticised West Northamptonshire Council (WNC) over the current situation down at the market’s temporary site in Commercial Street car park, which the late Eamonn ‘Fitzy’ Fitzpatrick called ‘Death Row’.

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According to WNC, five traders have relocated to new locations and the council says four new traders have started at the new site. WNC also highlighted the recent announcement of Bite Street holding an event in the new market.

Dave DunkleyDave Dunkley
Dave Dunkley

As previously reported by Chronicle & Echo, some traders have moved to the Grosvenor Centre while others have reduced their business hours due to lack of trade and footfall.

But Dave said: “We don’t need some people in the Grosvenor and some in the market. We need to be together. We are a market. We feed off each other.”

The 62-year-old said that traders had a meeting with WNC this month (April) where concerns were raised.

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Dave said: “WNC admitted at that meeting that it’s not working down here. We told them that it’s a matter of urgency that they need to move us or find us somewhere near the town centre.

Here's how the site is looking this month (April 17)Here's how the site is looking this month (April 17)
Here's how the site is looking this month (April 17)

"It’s really bad down here. It’s diabolical. We’re struggling down here. I don’t know how much longer we can carry on.

"We asked WNC at the meeting, ‘would you like to take an 80 percent a week decrease in your wages and still have the same bills to pay?’ They said no. Well that’s what they’re doing to us.

"It’s heartbreaking. It really is. We’ve lost a lot of our old and regular customers because they cannot get down here. This was not the right answer.

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“Nothing has happened since that meeting. It’s a sad day. They are going to ruin a perfectly good market.”

This is what the market looked like on Monday morning at around 11am (April 17)This is what the market looked like on Monday morning at around 11am (April 17)
This is what the market looked like on Monday morning at around 11am (April 17)

Dave is now calling for the council to move traders back into a location in the town centre where there is more footfall – even if that means paying rent again.

He said: “There is no point being down Commercial Street for free if we are not taking the custom. We would rather pay rent and have customers coming to the stall so we can make a living.

"We have suggested Abington Street. Anywhere in the town centre will do.

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"As far as I’m aware, the shops in the town centre are also struggling because since the market has left their trade has decreased. We feed off each other.”

WNC was asked by Chronicle & Echo:

- Could WNC explain what happened at this meeting and what the outcome was?

- Did WNC admit to traders that the market at Commercial Street “is not working"?

- Could traders be moved to a more suitable site in the town centre?

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Councillor Dan Lister responded saying: “We are working closely with traders to hold regular discussions to listen to and respond to any concerns they might have.

"At the beginning of the project, a thorough review was carried out to find a viable location for the market while redevelopment works take place at Market Square. Commercial Street car park provided the only suitable option.

"We are consistently reviewing options and will continue to have direct dialogue with traders.

"We continue to promote the new temporary location and would encourage all residents to come along and support traders and see what they have on offer.

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“Since opening at the new temporary location, we are pleased to be welcoming four new traders, offering virtual reality experiences, cakes, organic remedies, and a variety of gifts.

"In addition to this, we are working with Northampton’s popular food event, Bite Street, to offer three one-of-a-kind events over the next three months along with a vintage market.

"We wish the five traders who have moved to new locations all the best and look forward to reopening at the transformed Market Square next summer.”