Empty shops plan if market hall is axed

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ANGRY traders have launched a petition to save Wakefield’s £3m new market hall from the axe.

But they have little time to fight their case as a decision on the future of the hall, which only opened in 2008, is to be made at next Tuesday’s meeting of Wakefield Council’s cabinet committee.

Councillors are due to vote on whether or not to accept a proposal from Sovereign Land (Management) Ltd – the owners of Trinity Walk shopping centre – to create a multi-screen cinema on the market hall site.

Safwan Neki, who runs newsagents Union Street News at Wakefield Market Hall, started a petition yesterday morning urging customers to help traders save the market.

Mr Neki said council officials met with traders on Monday night, adding.“It’s ridiculous not having a market. The council said they want to scatter us around empty shops in the city. But one of the traders said they are empty for a reason, because trade is not good where they are.”

Kevin Bullock, ran Pete’s Shoe Repairs in a unit in the old market hall for 18 years and moved his business to the new hall in 2008.

He said: “We have been sold down the river again. There are a lot of council shops empty but there is no foot fall in the areas where they are so we will be jumping out of the frying pan in to the fire.”

Davy Lane, 27, who has the Footprints shoe shop in Wakefield’s indoor market for six years, said: “It doesn’t make sense.”

Coun Denise Jeffery, Wakefield Council’s deputy leader said: ““If this report is agreed, we will be allocating a pot of £100,000 to help indoor market traders who want to relocate, looking at opportunities of using empty retail units, and creating a new open market on the precinct where our specialist markets are already very successful. Wakefield will still have markets – but the present market hall has just not gelled with the public and shopper numbers have declined best all our best efforts.”