Markets could be taken over by private organisations

A busy Ossett market during the recent warm weather.
A busy Ossett market during the recent warm weather.

All six of Wakefield Council’s markets could be taken over by private organisations as the local authority seeks to cut costs.

Council bosses have announced a consultation on new ways of running the markets in Wakefield, Castleford, Pontefract, South Elmsall, Normanton and Ossett.

The council said it was seeking views from “external organisations” on their future.

Coun Denise Jeffery, cabinet member for economic growth and regeneration, said: “We know that many of our residents value the role that their local markets play and we are committed to ensuring that the district’s markets remain sustainable in the future.

“But, we have to be realistic and with over £144m wiped off our budget and with more cuts to come - we need to be innovative and open to new ideas.

“I want assurance that the way we deliver markets gives our residents the very best service.

“However, if there is a better way out there to provide and improve markets we must look at all possible options.”

Wakefield Council said traders and market staff would be consulted.

In a statement the council said: “The engagement exercise with the external organisations, which have been provided by the National Association of British Market Authorities, will help identify if there are any improvements, new ways of working or opportunities for different delivery models.”

The findings would be considered by the council’s cabinet.

Today’s announcement comes eight months after a controversial deal was agreed to sell Wakefield’s £3m market hall on Union Street to make way for a new cinema complex.

At the time traders complained at the loss of the market. And thousands of people had signed a petition against the proposal, when it was first revealed in 2014.

The council, developer Sovereign Centros, and owners of Trinity Walk Shopping Centre agreed in principle to the sale of market hall, which opened in 2008, last October.

A planning application for a new nine-screen cinema, restaurants and cafes at the site was submitted in March.