01895 639912 No. 4953

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Success for new Saturday market in Lincs

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Too cold for comfort Not so much a market hall as a roofed market with glass, Preston Council was keen to retain the impressive original ironwork (Photo: Peter James)

Traders at a newly refurbished and award- winning covered market in Lancashire are complaining that customer footfall has dropped to an all-time low, local media has reported. The comments f rom

stallholders at Preston’s new Market Hall come on the heels of a spate of closures at the market, with four separate businesses having shut up shop in the last few weeks. Traders have blamed

the low temperature in the new building for declining customer numbers, but also say the recent closure of the city’s old market hall car park has nudged footfall down even further. With morale at the market seemingly as low as the temperature, business owners are hoping that another meeting with the city authority will help to dispel their fears. Café owner Julie Fausset

told local media: “It’s so cold. I’m right at the very front and it has affected my trade immensely. “I have really struggled. The council had an extra door put on and it’s helped a bit, but this week it’s just been bitter. “I have had to give people their money back. They say

ISSN 2057–6781

‘I’m so sorry I’m too cold I can’t sit here’”. Not long after the new Market

Hall opened in February 2018 traders began to complain about the temperature in the glass hall, nicknaming it The Ice Cube. Over Christmas the city council added a new porch onto the entrance in an bid to create a buffer against the cold air entering the building, but traders say it was only partially successful in stopping the draught. In addition, now that the

old market car park has been closed for demolition traders claim that footfall and trade have declined yet again. Ms Fausset said: “It’s

directing everybody down to Fishergate. Footfall is really not very good. “The council has said that

footfall is good but people use it as a cut through to go to the bus station. They need to look at a footfall count for how many people are stopping to shop.

“Now that the car park is

closed people won’t carry their shopping miles so people go to the supermarkets where there is free parking. “Morale is very low with

traders. We are all cold and fed up and it kind of rubs off on our customers. “The building is amazing

– they just need to make it warm.” Ms Fausset added that she felt the traders were having

to pay “quite a high rent for basically what is an outdoor market”. Nikki Keese, who owns

Pickles of Preston, has been trading at the city’s markets for 50 years, and she believes if nothing is done then more businesses will leave. She told local media: “We

are all struggling with this high rent and we have lost the car park now which has affected us. “We have had several meetings with the council and they are just not interested. We keep saying if you carry on it’s going to be empty. “In the winter it’s very quiet

so nobody will come in here in January, February or March. It’s been a lot quieter and rent has actually doubled, so I was better off in the old market. “I’m just working to pay

the rent so I’m working for nothing. All the public are on our side. They feel sorry for us having to work in the cold and having to pay for heaters which are just useless. The electric bill has doubled as well. “It’s got a lot quieter because we used to get the footfall from the car park. Now people are parking elsewhere. The council promised us it was going to be amazing and it’s worse. I’m doing less but with double rent. “We need help to get through the next two or three years. By the time the new cinema complex is up and

running we are just going to be gone.” In an online post, craft ale

bar The Orchard tweeted: “If the council had set lower rents for the first three years while we are having to put up with a building site on our door steps giving traders, old and new, time and a chance to make a go of things it would be different. “That end of town is a building site. We fall on deaf ears.” Sugar Rush owner Hazel

Bean agreed, saying: “I feel like a lot needs to be looked at by the council to make it much more accessible and more comfortable for the customer, which would increase footfall.” Arthur Strand of the cooked

meat stall believes a reduction in rent would be a good starting point. “The rent’s too high,” he

told local media, “about two or three times what we were paying before. “The general public won’t

come in; there needs to be more variety of stalls. “Reduce the rent first and foremost and try and invite new traders in. It’s up to the council to search for these people.” Neil Fairhurst, Preston City

Council’s Director of Customer Services and Interim Deputy Chief Executive, told Market Trader in a statement: “We have regular meetings with the market trader association and look forward to continuing this

dialogue for the benefit of all shoppers and traders in our fantastic market hall. “Having welcomed over

half a million visitors since opening in February 2018 we remain confident that any improvements can only add to the success of the market offer.”

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