Will a smarter market be a hit for shoppers?

The newly-reorganised Market Square in Northampton has opened to a mixed reaction from stallholders, with some already threatening to leave if trading levels do not improve.

As part of a 1.3 million improvement project by Northampton Borough Council, half of the market has been cleared to make way for a large new entertainment space.

Stallholders were given the opportunity to experience the revamped Market Square for the first time yesterday but many of the longer-serving traders reacted angrily to being moved to a new pitch in a more compact shopping area.

Ray Pyall, who has owned a book stall on the market for 29 years, said: "Two people have already jacked it in because they were not happy with where their pitch was. I'm not happy where I am here as I cannot put up the proper backing around the stall. It is a hell of a job to get my vehicle up here as well.

"It was always going to be messy. They have juggled all the pitches around so you find that you have lost your pitch to some people who have only been here a little while. It is so claustrophobic.

"There is no atmosphere here on the market and trade will start drifting away. It is just depressing."

Dillon Clark, owner of a shoe stall, said: "Nobody likes change.

"I have been here 20 years and when I first came it was very hard to get a pitch. But now, it may be a sign of the times, but I just can't see any future for the market."

Marion Hindson, owner of Green Dragon Books, said: "It has created a black hole in the centre of Northampton.

"I'm sure the events they will put on there will be nothing that could not be done in Abington Street.

"It is sad to see them taking some of the market down. Most of the traders are pretty angry about it."

However, the reorganisation of the market was not criticised by all of the traders.

One stallholder, who did not wish to be named, said he was happy with the redesign and where his pitch was located.