Wakefield's outdoor market could be moved again to a 'better place', council leader says

Wakefield's outdoor market traders could be moved again, the council leader has hinted.

Friday, 1st October 2021, 5:34 pm
Wakefield stall holders have been trading outside the city's Cathedral since 2018.

Coun Denise Jeffery said she was "worried" about the state of the city's market and revealed the local authority was considering moving it to "a better place".

No final decision has been made however.

Traders were moved out of the market hall next to Wakefield Bus Station in 2018, having been there for 10 years.

Councillor Jeffery said she felt the market could be moved to a "better place", but several traders said they wanted to stay where they were.

Many deemed the hall, which was built by the developers behind Trinity Walk, a failure, with stall holders complaining about low footfall.

For the last three years, they've been doing business on the Cathedral precinct on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

Speaking on an online Q&A session on Tuesday, Council Jeffery said the hall next to the bus station "never fitted the bill and it didn't work."

But she added that the move to its current location, "hasn't been a success."

The market trades on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

She said: "I do worry about Wakefield's outdoor market.

"We haven't got it quite right where it is at the moment.

"We are looking at what we can do.

"I know there's been a lot of suggestions that we move the market into BHS.

Coun Jeffery suggested the move to the Cathedral Precinct had "not been a success".

"I'm not sure that would work but I wouldn't say we'll never do something about the market.

"We've got to make sure that's protected and in a better place. That is being looked at at the moment."

It is not known where traders may be moved to, should any plans materialise.

Most traders surveyed on Friday said they'd heard nothing about a potential move and opinion was split on whether or not it would be a good thing.

Trader rep Wendy Evans, whose Avon stall lies just off Westmorland Street, said: "I'd be against a move.

"I much prefer it here. You get the footfall from people walking from The Ridings to Trinity Walk.

"If we move I’d protest against it."

Clothes salesman Mohammad Javed, a trader of 43 years, was also sceptical.

"It would be ridiculous to move us now," he said. "People are used to being here.

"If they moved us to Trinity Walk or wherever it would take a lot of time. I think that would be the end of us."

Alan Nuttall said he's "quite happy" selling outside the Cathedral, though he's grown tired of the drink and drug-related anti-social behaviour affecting the area.

"I personally think they should gate this area off after 8pm at night," he said.

"If these people were dealt with it would make the area a nicer place. Shoppers would feel safer and they would be more likely to come into town if they knew people like that weren't going to be about."

Chestnut salesman Alan Jones is also frustrated by the presence of aggressive beggars, who he says are intimidating shoppers.

Wakefield city centre is subject to a public space protection order (PSPO), which was brought in to crack down on street drinking, but stretched police resources mean the problem has not been eradicated.

Mr Jones said: "25 years ago this was the best town in the world. Now, it’s like the Bronx sometimes.

"We never used to have people on drink and drugs hanging around the centre, so I don’t know why it happens now.

"At fairgrounds where I sell sometimes, if there's anyone drunk or on drugs they just get kicked out."

Trader Lynne Bryan is concerned about the future of The Ridings, which it was revealed this week is up for sale.

She said if The Ridings were to close it would "devastate the market". Under those circumstances she said it would be better for traders to be moved again, although "it depends where".

David and Ruth Spencer, who sell handbags and cuddly toys opposite Costa Coffee, said they would not be opposed to a move either.

Mr Spencer said: "The footfall’s terrible here. It was bad before the pandemic and it’s just not picked up again.

"People aren’t spending, they’re just walking past."

The couple said they like the market to either be made more compact, with all stalls brought closer together along one stretch of the precinct.

Or alternatively, they say they'd be happy outside the former market hall close to the bus station.

"It took some time but footfall was just picking up before the council moved us out," Mrs Spencer said.

"We had a bit of protection from the weather there as well!

"We wouldn’t mind being back round there, so as long as there adequate publicity."

The council committed a £5m package to be invested in its six markets across the district last year.

Among the plans revealed then was for "permanent high quality" stalls to be bought for the outdoor markets in Wakefield, Ossett and Pontefract, to replace the weather-worn gazebos and improve their appearance.

That has yet to materialise however.

Local Democracy Reporting Service