With disruption to their livelihoods set for at least the next six weeks, market traders in Lancaster are becoming increasingly frustrated with what they feel is “second best” treatment.
The Square Routes regeneration scheme is in full flow, with sections of the city centre being refurbished in turn.
However, this has meant upheaval for the Charter market traders, who have been forced to move to different pitches for weeks at a time while work is carried out.
Many traders have expressed concerns about loss of trade, being moved too far away from their current pitch, or being shoved out completely.
On Wednesday, Andrew and Lynne Long turned up to erect their craft and jewellery stall to discover a skip had been left in the middle of their pitch, meaning they lost a day’s trade.
Mr Long said: “This is just the market traders once again being treated as second best. This will impact on our week’s income quite considerably.”
Michelle Lawson, who runs the Board Stiff stall in Cheapside, has been forced to move and also reduce the size of her stall.
She said: “I had been on the pitch near Carphone Warehouse for six years and then was suddenly moved without warning for new benches and bike racks to be installed.
“I also had to reduce the size of my pitch by 4ft.
“I have really noticed the drop in trade. It’s not good enough.”
Claire Whitehead, from the pet stall in Cheapside, said: “The biggest point is the complete lack of knowing what is going to happen.
“When you have built your business up over a number of years, it’s a lack of respect for the traders.
“Why haven’t they come and talked to us about their plans?
“We have been on the market for nine years, and we noticed a definite effect on trade when we were moved. The work has got to take place but we don’t know what will happen at the end.
“They must have some idea what they are going to do so why can’t they tell us?”
Karen Chaplin, who at 15 years is one of the longest-running traders on the market with her Herb Garden plant stall in Cheapside, said there were fears the number of stalls would be slashed.
She said: “We have heard there will be eight stalls in Market Square and none in Market Street.
“That’s a major concern as there are more than that to fit in, and even if they keep the Cheapside stalls it will stop the continuity of the market.
“When you get moved around your trade drops by half.
“There needs to be some sort of compromise, but the important thing is keeping our pitches.”
Colin Jeffries, who owns the book stall in Market Street, said: “A lot of us have built up regular trade and people expect to find you in a certain position, otherwise you lose your trade.
“We just want to know where we will be after the work is done.”
Paul Martin, who has run the fruit and veg stall in Market Square for 14 years, added: “No one knows what’s going on. We have been told there will be a restructure, but will the pitches be there for us to go back to?
“All we are here for is to make a living.”
* Traders have set up a petition at www.petitions24.com/lancaster_market_sos