£1m spent for a reason

General scene of market stalls on Market Street, Lancaster.
General scene of market stalls on Market Street, Lancaster.

Gayle Rouncivell’s article, Left in Limbo (July 31), regarding the plight of the street market traders during the Square Routes project, prompts me to write on behalf of the many city centre businesses who have suffered much worse disruption to their trading patterns during the project.

They have not had the ability to move their trading pitches to avoid the noise, dust and general interference with normal customer flows. They have, however, traded on in adversity ever conscious that the disruption will result in a much improved environment which should hopefully result in improved customer numbers.

Yes, the weekly street market does add something to the general ambience in the city on market days but it could do this from any central location. Not many years ago the market only existed on Church Street and thrived in that location.

When the then traders were asked to temporarily relocate to allow pedestrian works in Church Street there were the same howls of protest, only of course until they were then asked to move back when we once again heard that they were being victimised.

A sense of proportion needs to be kept about the real contribution the street market brings. It is but one of the many facets to Lancaster’s ever improving visitor experience which the Square Routes project aims to enhance.

Having spent in excess of £1 million surely it would be ridiculous to have simply created the country’s most expensive base for a market stall.

When a number of traders temporarily moved to New Street at the height of the works the presentation of uniform stalls in clean lines causing no obstruction to existing businesses gave the perfect example of what our street market should look like.

If the offer is strong enough surely our regular customers and visitors will soon seek out the stalls in new locations ... they are not being asked to move out of the city after all?

As well as business rates all the businesses in Lancaster City Centre pay a levy to Lancaster Unlimited, the City’s Business Improvement District. This is their commitment to seeing a vibrant and attractive city centre giving benefit to all, not a chosen few.

The street market traders would do well to take note of that.

Suzi Bunting

Manager Lancaster Unlimited

The Business Improvement District for Lancaster

Northgate

White Lund

Morecambe.