Peterborough City Market has ‘exciting future’ as traders given apology over ‘misinformation’
Peterborough City Market has an “exciting future” with plans to make it a “modern, vibrant, shopping experience,” according to the two men responsible for its long-term vision.
Peterborough City Council leader Cllr Wayne Fitzgerald, and market portfolio holder Cllr Steve Allen, spoke to traders on Friday afternoon in an attempt to reassure them after many had been left with the impression last week that they were to lose their businesses.
Cllr Fitzgerald apologised for the “misinformation” which had been given during a meeting between a council officer and stallholders who were told that the market is to be demolished with no plans for a replacement.
While the long-term redevelopment of Northminster has been earmarked for many months, Cllr Fitzgerald said a guarantee that the market will be relocated should have been passed on.
He once again promised that the market will be given a new home, adding that he wants to give it “fresh look” and make it a “modern, vibrant, shopping experience”.
The two councillors were joined today by MP for Peterborough Paul Bristow, who told the stallholders: “While you’ve had a shock, and while you’ve been let down by what you heard last week, what you can take comfort from is you have two people here today who are driving this regeneration forward and have a positive vision for the market.
“You’ve got every reason to be worried about what you were told last week. If I were you I’d all be worried about it.
“As a local Member of Parliament a commitment to this market is central to me, but I’m reassured and inspired by these two guys who have the same commitment. It will be a new future for you.”
Phil Woodland, co-owner of Woodland Butchers, said staff were worried about the business closing which could result in difficulties paying their mortgages.
He added: “We’ve dealt with the council for all these years and it’s just disrespect. They say one thing and do something else.”
Cllr Allen, who is also deputy leader of the council, replied: “That was then and this is now. We now have a positive future. There is a place for you in this city and a more exciting place. We want a more dynamic market suitable for modern day shopping requirements.
“A good market for the city is front and foremost of our plans for regeneration and building back better.”
There was a pledge to arrange a further meeting later this year and maintain regular dialogue going forward.
Cllr Fitzgerald added: “We are approachable. We’re not sitting in the Town Hall in plush offices. We’re out and about talking to people.”
He said the reason no site for a new market had been agreed yet was because of the Covid pandemic, with the project being pushed back as resources were diverted elsewhere.
At the same time, plans to regenerate Northminster moved forward, with the Peterborough Investment Partnership (which is 50 per cent owned by the council) recently unveiling plans for 350 homes at the site, on top of a new public realm and a likely food and drink offering.
Development, subject to planning permission being granted, is expected to begin early next year meaning a new site for the market will need to be earmarked before then.
Following the meeting, Kevin Woodland, who also co-owns Woodland Butcher, said he was 75 per cent reassured by what he had heard.
He told the Peterborough Telegraph: “I’ve been 37 years on the market and this is the first time I’ve had a real meeting where we’ve not just been fobbed off.
“Let’s see what happens.”
Cllr Allen, who took over responsibility for the market two weeks ago, said he was unsure whether there was a manager in place after he was told that was not the case.
He acknowledged there had been a “disconnect” between the council and market traders but that he was committed to addressing their concerns.
Cllr Fitzgerald, when asked if the market had been neglected as was claimed during the meeting, replied: “The market has been successful over a number of years. It’s been known that the area is going to be redeveloped, so to throw money at something that has no long term future from an infrastructure point of view is not the best use of taxpayers’ money.”