A return to Cathedral Square for Peterborough City Market is being championed as disillusioned stall-holders are desperate for help.
Market traders believe their current site is filthy and has become an unpopular destination, which makes it difficult to earn enough money to pay their rents.
Some traders even claim Peterborough City Council, which owns the market, is owed thousands of pounds in rent from struggling stallholders. The council, however, would not confirm or deny this due to “commercial sensitivity.”
The debate on the market’s future was sparked by a council scrutiny committee last Thursday when both Councillor John Fox and Councillor John Okonkowski declared that the market was in the wrong place.
Cllr Fox said he wanted to see the market back in Cathedral Square where it left in 1963 to move to its current site - the area bounded by Northminster, Laxton Square, Cattle Market Road and Market Way.
Cllr Okonkowski added: “They should never have dumped the market in that corner. Your best bet is having it in the centre of Peterborough.”
Concerns were also raised that the new planned £100 million development of North Westgate, which is hoped to be completed by 2017/2018, will further impact on the market due to a planned food court.
Gary Wright, market development manager at the council, said the percentage of available slots at the market being taken up by stallholders had gone up from 77 per cent in January 2014 to 83 per cent currently.
However, he said: “The market has been neglected for a number of years. There is no quick fix.
“Things are ticking over slowly. The market is a bit tatty although we managed to get the railings painted.”
Going back to Cathedral Square will never happen, but it should.Pete Thomson
Stallholders were more critical of their work-place with all who were spoken to having several grievances.
Pete Thomson, who runs the ‘P.T. Jewellery store’, said: “Going back to Cathedral Square will never happen, but it should.
“What would help is the market being cleaned up and some sign-posting which you get when you go to Leicester.”
Pete added: “People are struggling and a lot of them owe the council thousands of pounds.
“Rent and parking for me is £95 a week.”
Card shop stall-holder Jenny Hensey said: “The council need to do something to help. It’s disgusting, but if you painted the empty stalls people would come.
“They bend over backward for foreign markets, and I have nothing against them, but we need to look presentable.”
Hussain Walji, who runs the ‘Price Cutter’ stall, echoed the suggestion that money was not being collected by the council.
He said: “I’ve been here 30 to 35 years and the place used to be booming. I used to have two or three people working for me.
“Christmas was completely dead and I lost money. Some traders do not take three pounds in a day. Sometimes I do not take the rent which needs to go down. The management should come and talk to the traders.”
Simply Fabrics worker Charlotte Bridge, when asked whether the market should move, said: “Yes, definitely. It needs a boost, although it’s the best place I’ve ever worked.
“Business picks up occassionally, but if the market was in a place visitors could access easily it would be better.”
The market is open Tuesday to Saturday from 8.30am to 4pm.
The council says it has no plans to move the market and that rent prices are low. It is also creating 11 new food stalls and a seating area.
New lighting and wind barriers are also being installed and new signage put in place.
Council leader Cllr Marco Cereste said a temporary market in Cathedral Square could be erected if it was taken down in the evenings.
He added: “I go to the market regularly and do my food shopping. I do not think it’s disgusting and nobody has told me that. We do need a new market - it’s something that needs to be done.”
Timeline of the market
AD655 – Original Abbey founded in St Peters Burgh. Market established in shelter of the Abbey.
972 – Chartered status granted to the market by the Abbott on authority of King Edgar which formalised permission to hold the market and developed into protection from competing markets.
1072 – Abbey is sacked but a rebuilt market is still held within the grounds.
1118 – Abbey rebuilt and market moved from within the grounds to west of the building to an area later known as Cathedral or Market Square.
1761 – Market held weekly on Cathedral Square.
1876 – Rights to hold market fairs purchased by the city corporation from the ecclesiastical commissioners, but excluded Bridge Fair.
1938 – Live stock market established on the current market site.
1963 – General market transferred to current site from Cathedral Square on closure of the cattle market.