PETERBOROUGH’S historic market needs urgent investment to improve footfall, according to traders.
The covered market, in Laxton Square, invited Shailesh Vara, MP for North West Cambridgeshire, for a guided tour on Saturday.
Traders, management and the Friends of Peterborough Market voiced their concerns ranging from investment to problems with the cleaning.
Mr Vara said: “This is a vibrant market which has the potential to be even better with more stalls.
“I would encourage as many people as possible to come and see the wide ranges of items on sale, from food – including fresh fruit and veg, fish and bakery products – to hardware and clothes.”
He added that he will arrange a meeting with Peterborough city councillor David Seaton, cabinet member for resources, to discuss the market’s future.
Di Newman, from the friends group, said the main issues facing the market, which has a charter dating back to the 10th Century, were cleaning and the noticeboards.
Traders have repeatedly complained because the machine that cleans the floor has been broken for at least eight months and cleaning it by hand is not good enough.
Mrs Newman has also called on the city council to provide a precise breakdown of where the annual £400,000 market traders gives it in rent is spent.
She added: “It feels like the market has fallen off the agenda and it should be the jewel in the crown.
“It is a wonderful reflection of the multi-cultural city and fits perfectly in the environment city aspirations.”
Ed Cullum, chairman of Peterborough Market on the National Market Traders Federation, said there are ambitious plans for the market but it needs support from the council and the Government.
A recent change in legislation means stall holders have to pay individual business rates, rather than the market as a whole paying one rate, although some have a temporary exemption.
He said: “Footfall here is so low that charging rates is crippling businesses. The Government should be encouraging small businesses not making it harder.”
Currently there are only about 90 stalls out of a possible 147 at the market.