Traders fear for jobs after plan to close market hall

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Traders say they fear for their livelihoods after a deal was agreed to sell the city’s £3m market hall.

The indoor market will shut down and the site will be sold off to make way for a new cinema complex under the deal agreed in principle by Wakefield Council, developer Sovereign Centros and the owners of Trinity Walk last week.

A new outdoor market along the precinct, after the current market hall is sold.

A new outdoor market along the precinct, after the current market hall is sold.

The market hall could shut as soon as January and traders said they were worried their jobs could be at risk if they cannot find somewhere else to set up shop in time for the closure.

Martin Ashby, who has been on the market for nearly 50 years, said: “Since the council first announced the plan in 2014, we have been in limbo. But we had the promise the market was being moved into The Ridings.

“We have met with the council and The Ridings management to have discussions about the proposed move and they seemed extremely keen to have a new concept of a market hall within a shopping centre, which would be a win win for everybody. But we were told at a meeting last Thursday that the market is now not moving, it is just closing.

“We have been in limbo for more than two years when we could have been trying to find somewhere else to trade from.”

Artist impression of the new cinema complex and restaurants.

Artist impression of the new cinema complex and restaurants.

David Flaherty, who runs a second hand book stall, added: “I have built up a good customer base here with lots of regulars. It is going to be sad because if I cannot find any suitable premises, I won’t be able to continue and I think people will be disappointed.

“People feel like this is our heritage being taken away but they feel helpless because that’s falling on deaf ears. Nobody has asked the people of Wakefield if they want this.”

The council said it would meet traders individually and would work to help them relocate to new premises, and offer financial support.

It said it had been unable to progress talks with The Ridings over a proposed move due to circumstances “beyond its control”.

Mr Flaherty said: “We are hopeful that Wakefield Council will help us relocate within the city centre and will support us to keep going. Now, it’s business as normal and I hope everybody keeps coming to the market hall to support the traders.”

Mr Ashby said some stall holders would seek legal advice over their options, adding: “The indoor market is still open, we are still trading.”

Andy Wallhead, the council’s corporate director for regeneration and economic growth, said: “We have proposed a closure date for the market in January.

“This would allow the traders to trade over the busy Christmas period and then leave at a typically quieter time. We are waiting for the traders to let us know if they want to go ahead with this proposal.”

Traders at the open air market will move to a new outdoor market on the precinct on November 17. The council said the new site would “revitalise” the city’s market offering.

But trader Mark Venables said stall holders were worried about the impact of the move.

He said: “There’s been no discussion with traders as to when it would take place.

“We were just told the market is being sold, the outdoor market is moving, no ifs no buts, no ‘what do you think?’”