Wakefield’s indoor market to move to Ridings shopping centre?

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TRADERS from Wakefield’s under-threat indoor market could be moved to the Ridings shopping centre.

Council chiefs are in talks with bosses at the Ridings over plans for a “bespoke” indoor market in the shopping centre.

Wakefield Council chiefs revealed in February that owners of the nearby Trinity Walk shopping centre had made an offer to buy the indoor market hall and redevelop it in to a cinema and restaurant units.

Traders said takings started to plummet after the announcement and launched a petition to save the market.

The petition, which was started before the possibility of a move to the Ridings was raised, was signed by more than 10,000 people.

The large amount of signatures prompted the proposed market hall sale to be referred to a meeting this afternoon (Tuesday July 7) of the council’s corporate performance overview and scrutiny committee.

A report to the meeting stated: “The council has received a petition stating: ‘Wakefield Market Closure – What a Disgrace. Wakefield Market is going to be closed and pulled down because Wakefield Council think people want a cinema and eating places instead. When there are less jobs, less money and more people needing markets, their reasoning for closing doesn’t make sense.’”

The meeting was told that some market hall traders have already moved out of the indoor hall, which has struggled since it opened in 2008.

Ben Cook, Wakefield Council’s service manager for markets, told the meeting the council has been consulting with market traders over the hall sale plan.

He added: “We have managed to negotiate with The Ridings a possible opportunity to relocate traders to a bespoke indoor market in The Ridings.

“We are very excited and The Ridings are very excited about the potential of this.”

Referring to the council’s discussions with indoor market traders about a possible move to The Ridings, Mr Cook said: “A number of indoor traders didn’t want it, but a lot of traders were positive.”

Mr Cook said the current indoor market was not sustainable, adding: “It is losing a substantial amount of money.”

Martin Ashby, Wakefield Market’s longest serving trader who has run Martin’s Textiles for 48 years, said earlier this week: “I’m having to downsize because very few people are coming in the market. Since the announcement in February my business has gone down 70 per cent.”

Speaking about a proposed move to The Ridings, Mr Ashby said: “A lot of the traders are quite happy for that to happen.”

Deborah Burnley, who runs DLB Healthy Lifestyles in Wakefield indoor market, told this afternoon’s scrutiny committee meeting: “The public of Wakefield were really passionate about our market. For me, without the market Wakefield is nothing.”

Scrutiny committee chairman Coun Ron Halliday told the meeting: “I’m amazed at the number of signatures (on the petition). If those people had gone to the market we wouldn’t be here now.”

After the meeting, Miss Burnley said: “A move to the Ridings could be a positive outcome.”

The local authority has previously outlined proposals for Wakefield’s outdoor market to be moved to Cathedral Precinct in Wakefield city centre.

Members of the scrutiny committee agreed to note the petition but said that no further action was required following a consultation with traders and proposals to relocate the market should the hall sale to developers go ahead.

Barbara Winston, manager of The Ridings shopping centre said after the meeting: “We can confirm that we are currently in talks with the local authority about the possibility of taking stall holders from the existing market into The Ridings Shopping Centre.

“This is a potentially exciting opportunity for both the city and the stall holders.”

Tony Burdin, chief executive of Sheffield Mutual Friendly Society

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