BOSSES behind Burton Market Hall have moved to defend claims they have not done enough to attract shoppers – and traders – to the revamped venue.
East Staffordshire Borough Council has been criticised for failing to bring in enough stallholders at the newly-reopened site, meaning there is little there to entice shoppers down to the historic hall.
But Councillor Robert Hardwick, who heads up the project, strenuously denied the claim, saying staff were working ‘tirelessly’ to get the hall off the ground and firing on all cylinders.
He told the Mail: “The Market Hall has undergone a tremendous redevelopment and we have been working tirelessly to entice new tenants into the vacant units as well as organise events throughout the coming months.
“Since the opening day we have already received a great deal of interest from new traders on the vacant units. In the next month we have four more traders moving in and commencing trading. In addition we are liaising with different groups to arrange themed market days.
“We are making use of Facebook and Twitter to market the event as well as continuing to work closely with trade publications and the local media.”
The Market Hall opened its doors on June 21, after a £1.6 renovation which closed the site for more than 10 months.
Many of the fixed stalls remained empty for the grand opening, and the ‘pop-up’ stalls in the middle of the hall were unoccupied.
Workmen were still completing some of the painting two days after the opening.
One shopper told the Mail: “There’s nothing here. Half the stalls are empty and it’s no different to before. Where have they spent £1.6 million? They should have left it as it was.”
Others said they thought the outdoor market should be moved back from Station Street to the Market Place, but Councillor Hardwick said the authority ‘had not considered the merits’ of this idea.
Plans to put evening entertainment in the hall are continuing apace, he added, and the council was actively seeking people who would like to stage events.
“We have already received enquiries from people who are looking to host a variety of events,” the councillor said.