BURTON’S indoor market is a ‘shadow of its former self’ after a council revealed five traders have left in as many weeks.
East Staffordshire Borough Council admitted to the Mail that the five traders have not been replaced but added that the new outdoor market, in Station Street, is flourishing.
Councillor Bill Ganley, of the Labour opposition group, claimed that the council has not installed replacements in the indoor market ‘to avoid paying compensation’ to stallholders when the hall shuts for refurbishment which is still scheduled for September.
He said: “I am not surprised in the slightest at the amount of traders who have left the indoor market. In my opinion this is part of the Tories’ plan. They want all of these businesses to leave so they don’t have to pay them compensation when the hall shuts for refurbishment.”
From November 21 – when the outdoor market moved to Station Street – to December 31, a total of five traders have packed up business in the hall, although the borough council added that ‘some had handed their notice in prior to the outdoor market moving.’
Councillor Ganley said: “They handed in their notice prior to the outdoor market moving because they knew what was going to happen. They predicted it and it is coming true, just like the outdoor traders knew if they moved to Station Street their trade would increase, because it is their job to know.”
As previously reported to the Mail, the outdoor market has seen an increase in stalls being occupied by 60 per cent, but at the same time the council added that footfall in the indoor market was mirroring the current economic situation elsewhere in the town and the country.
Councillor Ganley added: “People are coming to Burton from Derby for their little independent shops and they go to the market and just say it is dead. The market is a shadow of its former self.
“The fruit and vegetable stalls outside were built in the 1930s to attract people to the market and now we are getting rid of them.
“It has absolutely devastated trade in the indoor market. Traders have told me they are losing trade by 30 to 40 per cent. Some are holding on to see what compensation they can get.”
A council spokesman said: “During the period when the aforementioned traders left, the authority welcomed applications and actively sought tenants. Unfortunately, no tenancies were forthcoming.
“With respect to the accusation that the authority is not appointing tenants to avoid compensation payments, this is untrue. It should be noted that any tenant with less than one full year of residency is not eligible to any statutory compensation.”