Castleford market traders not allowed to leave early - even in bad weather
Market traders on Castleford outdoor market have been told by Wakefield Council their rents are going back up to pre-Covid rates - despite trade being very slow.
And, that though there are few customers after 2pm they have to remain on site until 4pm even in bad weather - despite emails from management saying they will be allowed to pack up early.
Paul Whitaker who has stood at the market for 20 years said:“Since Covid, people’s shopping habits have changed.
“From 2pm onwards the market dies. We stand here twiddling our thumbs; banks and shops shut at 3pm and they say the reason they are not staying open is because there’s no point.
“We suggested they give us half-an-hour flexibility so we could go at 3.30pm. They had a meeting and we were allowed to do so for a week.
“They are now quoting the highways regulations at us but recently they dropped the barriers for the rugby match at 2pm.
“Once shopping habits change again we will be happy to stay to 4pm.”
Castleford precinct is the subject of a traffic regulation order (TRO) which does not allow vehicles between 10am-4pm.
In an email to traders, the council said that market staff do not have authority to permit vehicles to drive on the precinct due to the TRO.
Simon Barker has been standing on the markets for the past 25 years said: “They have silly rulings about not coming on to pack up until 4pm - even in extreme weather - and they say this is because of highway regulations.
“Last Wednesday, was a perfect example, the weather turned bad really quickly and I have stock that can get easily damaged."
Coun Richard Forster, Wakefield Council’s deputy cabinet member for regeneration, economic growth and property, said: “We are keen to engage regularly with our market traders about any issues, concerns or ideas they might have and our markets team can be approached by traders at any time via telephone, email or face-to-face.
“Castleford, as at Pontefract, Wakefield and Ossett outdoor market, is the subject of a Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) on the precinct – which is in place for public safety reasons. “However, we accept that some traders may wish to leave before 4pm, for example during quiet trading conditions.
“Equipment has been purchased to assist traders to barrow off and we are also exploring allocating parking bays near to the precinct for traders to use in these circumstances.
“There is also a policy that allows traders to leave early when there are conditions of adverse weather and it is deemed a health and safety risk to keep the traders trading. In these circumstances, this will be carefully managed by our staff in order to maintain public safety.
“The decision to return to full rents was carefully considered and we would encourage any trader experiencing difficulty to speak to a member of the markets team.”