Traders blast council for stalls uncertainty

Market stall holders Lynne and Andrew Long are concerned about the future of the market.
Market stall holders Lynne and Andrew Long are concerned about the future of the market.

Traders on Lancaster’s street market say they have been left in the lurch by the city council over the future of their stalls.

The city centre is currently undergoing refurbishment as part of the Square Routes project, and some of the Charter market stalls have been moved to alternative pitches as a result.

But traders say they are now concerned that there will no longer be allocated spaces for them once the work is complete.

From next week, stalls based in Market Street are also being moved from their usual pitch for six weeks.

They have been given temporary pitches in either Market Square or Cheapside.

Andrew and Lynne Long, from Lancaster, operate their craft and jewellery stall outside the former Next store in Market Street.

Mr Long, pictured, said: “We’re getting increasingly concerned about the future of our business and the future of the market in general.

“There are rumours flying round that stall holders will be relocated to New Street and Church Street.

“But there’s no footfall there. If you ask any business in the city centre to move like that, the answer would be no.

“Some stalls have already been affected by the relocation of street furniture, and coffee shops are putting tables and chairs outside which is reducing the space even further.

“The market draws a lot of people into the city who wouldn’t normally visit.

“We’ve been informed that there will be some sort of consultation with market traders when the council has decided what to do. All we’re trying to do is protect our livelihood. My wife has been trading in Lancaster city centre for 10 years. We’ve built our business up and tripled our turnover despite the recession. There are a lot of stallholders that are worried, and we don’t feel the council is being up front with us.

“We feel like we are all fighting for our futures.”

Coun Jon Barry, city council cabinet member with responsibility for markets, said: “We are still looking into the arrangements for the new market layout. My intention is to put forward a layout that is as similar as possible to the current layout, though there are some Health and Safety issues in terms of having room for access for emergency vehicles. From everything I have seen so far, there still will be stalls in Market Street. We are in the process of arranging a meeting with traders to discuss the new layout.”