08:00 Monday 03 December 2012

'Left behind' market fruit and veg stall lays off staff

Written byby HELEN KREFT

A MARKET stall in Burton has had to lay off two employees after it was ‘left behind’ when other stalls moved to Station Street.

Daren Ritchie and John Meakin
Daren Ritchie and John Meakin

AJ Taylors fruit and vegetable stall was one of the few businesses told to stay in the Market Place but owners say takings are down 40 per cent since the ice rink arrived.

Owners Daren Ritchie and Jon Meakin have been trading there for 14 years and say they have never known business to be so bad.

The area is fenced off behind the new ice rink in the Market Square leading shoppers to believe there is no market left and everything has been transferred to Station Street.

There is also a funfair — which had no customers when the Mail visited at noon on Friday.

Mr Meakin said: “When they moved the market to Station Street they [the council] just left us behind. There has been no advertising to say we are still here.

“People have been walking by saying they didn’t know we were still here because the ice rink has a fence behind it so people think the area is fenced off.

“We are now 40 to 45 per cent down on takings and I have already had to lay two people off because we just don’t need the staff. If it stays like this we just won’t be able to carry on.

“We want to go into Station Street but we have been told they don’t want food there. It is unfair.

“We will be given six months notice and then we can apply to go inside the market hall — but traders are already leaving the indoor market.”

Chairat Kongkasmut, owner of Favourite Thai Restaurant, in the Market Place, is also worried about his business, saying: “It is so bad now. We had five people last night, usually we would have about 20.

“I am worried abut the business failing.

“It has been so quiet for the last two or three weeks.”

A spokesman for East Staffordshire Borough Council said: “The council opened an ice rink and funfair. This was in line with requests from local businesses to introduce a variety of events to the town centre with the intention of increasing footfall, in particular the market place region.

“The opening hours of the ongoing market place attractions are 10am to 7pm daily, therefore having potential to boost footfall during the majority of the periods that the local businesses are open.

“The early indications suggest that footfall has increased to the area, despite the recent inclement weather.

“The council has been contacted by a stallholder about their business and is happy to discuss the issues with them and suggest possible ways forward, as the authority would do with any trader.”

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