14:43 Monday 11 February 2013

Council defiant as markets move anger intensifies


‘WHAT does it take for the council to admit they have got it wrong?’ is the question asked by an online group campaigning against changes to Burton market.

The Friends of Burton Market Facebook page has hit back at comments from East Staffordshire Borough Council claiming that market traders are ‘eager’ to move to the first floor of The Octagon Shopping Centre.

However, council chiefs say the move ‘demonstrates the council’s commitment to keep traders operating.’

The Facebook page said: “The article quotes Stephen Hinds (the council’s head of finance and asset management) as saying, ‘It is great to see so many traders eager to experience trading from The Octagon. . .’ I know of no traders eager to move upstairs, and the eggman has refused this move, and Tony’s butchers will not be moving there – they are leaving the market entirely and will be taking premises in New Street - something I was very sorry to hear.

“No business person with their head screwed on right would want to move upstairs in the Octagon - for a start, it requires a redesign for foot traffic to start flowing in that direction and the market traders all know this.

“How is it Mr Hinds does not know this and where in the world did he get the idea that there are any traders eager for this move?

“For our market traders’ businesses to survive, they need to keep trading in Burton market and on the market square. Just what does it take for the council to admit it has got it wrong or, as so many suspect, is its plans nothing to do with market trading but instead to do with other plans for our market hall?”

The first floor has been empty since the last business closed its doors last year, closely following Beatties, and stallholders currently trading in the market hall will move to the shopping centre next month while the hall undergoes refurbishment.

It will mean the market will be split into three. With outdoor traders now permanently pitched up in Station Street, traders in the brick built units outside the hall until they are bulldozed and those being housed in the shopping centre.

The Mail asked the council why it chose the shopping centre to house the traders, what will be done to get foot traffic flowing in that direction, and what it can say to elderly customers of the market who will have to walk from Station Street to the Octagon to do their shopping.

Councillor David Leese, deputy leader for partnerships, said: “The council carefully considered various locations around the town centre for where to locate the existing traders while the refurbishment takes place.

“The Octagon is an ideal venue for the traders in the short term as it has enough space to house all the traders and it is centrally located with excellent links to public transport networks. The move also demonstrates the council’s commitment to keep traders operating.

“The council, with the support of the town centre manager and the Octagon, will work tirelessly to ensure that the short term venue for the market in the Octagon is publicised. I am hopeful that too, that the local media will help us in that respect.”

The council will spend £1.54 million to regenerate the indoor market by turning it into a daytime shopping hub housing food retailers, and a music, cinema and entertainment venue at night.

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