Traders at Preston’s new Market Hall are continuing to deal with a long list of teething problems, almost three months after the building opened.Advertisement
Sam Livesey of Livesey’s Butchers is spokesperson for the traders.
Sam said, “We tend to think the hall could have been a bit bigger, but then again there are still a few empty stalls even now. Although footfall is higher, there are a couple of traders who are still saying it’ll need to get busier to make it pay.
“There’s some diversity in the stalls, but because Preston City Council wanted 75-80 per cent to be food-related, it’s now potentially lacking other types of stalls like the haberdashery and tobacco kiosk.
“It’s been a bugbear for both us and the customers that some of the old traders weren’t offered a place in the new Market Hall. I’m sure many of them could have been well-suited given the right premises, but if an application was deemed inadequate then that was that.”
Read more: Update on when new stalls will open in Preston Market
As part of the move, the traders were responsible for shop-fitting everything from equipment to sinks and counters. This then had to be vetted against strict rules set by the council and the architects, which has been a challenging process for many of the traders.
Meanwhile rent has increased, and while traders were given a small leniency at the beginning, Sam feels there should have been a longer discounted period to enable everyone to settle in.
Other issues listed include some stalls not getting enough electricity supply, drainage pipes causing trip hazards, and long delays with phone lines being fitted.
The biggest problem for traders, however, has been working in freezing temperatures.
Sam said, “We thought temperature was likely to be an issue due to the building design, but the Council insisted it wouldn’t be a problem. Unfortunately the opening was perfectly timed with the Beast from the East. It was horrendous, we were working in -4. We’re not soft and want to get on with the job, but it’s hard when you’re working in these conditions.
“To begin with, most stalls didn’t have a heater; now we have them but they are inadequate. When the wind comes in through the gable ends it blows a gale and is very cold.
“We had a meeting with the council and they listened to our grievances, but unfortunately there’s no quick fix solution, and they said it will take months to see what they can do. We understand it doesn’t happen overnight, but this isn’t what traders expected or signed up for.”
Overall, though, Sam does feel the new Market Hall is a positive development.
He said: “The previous building had served its purpose and was old and tired. A lot of the traders were struggling for business in there.
“We need to work together with the council to get these few issues resolved, and then we all stand a good chance of success, especially once the rest of the stalls are filled. The new Market Hall is a destination for people to go to, and the whole area is the future of Preston what with the plans for the bus station, the new hotel and the cinema complex.”
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Director of environment and soon to be chief executive of the city council Adrian Phillips said: “The new Market Hall has been a great success since its soft launch in February, and it has been great to see so many people come out and support traders in the first few months.
“The markets are definitely becoming a destination and are attracting not only local residents, but also people from across the region.
“With significant interest in the few remaining stalls, we anticipate the Market Hall and Box Market to be at full capacity over the coming months.
“Of course there have been some teething problems – they have to be expected with any new building or major project. We have been working with traders to help rectify any issues they have experienced and we will continue to do so to ensure the markets’ success.”
What do you think of the traders’ complaints? Let us know in the comments below.