NEW FACILITY 'DOESN'T MAKE SENSE' FOR TOWN
PLANS for a new outdoor market in Cheadle have come under fire.
Staffordshire Moorlands District Council wants to open a new weekly facility at Greyhound Walk – between High Street and the Tape Street car park – before Christmas.
The authority is already advertising for stallholders – claiming the idea of the new Friday market won support during a consultation process.
But traders, councillors and business groups insist they weren’t given the chance to comment and have this week questioned the need for a new facility.
Dave Sargeant, who has run a stall on Cheadle’s privately-run High Street market for 11 years, said: “My major issue is why the council wants two markets when we could have all got together and created one large, highly successful one.
“The High Street market has just been tarmaced and there are stalls already erected, but SMDC wants to open a new site and will presumably pay for erecting and dismantling the stalls every week at taxpayers’ expense.
“The current site is perfect for a market – why do we need a new one? I find it very difficult to believe.”
Town councillor Ray Wood, superintendent at the existing market, has been left dumbfounded by the plan.
“I’m absolutely disgusted to be honest,” he said.
“Why do they want to open another market when the one we already have is struggling to survive? It doesn’t make any sense.
“The district council should be working with us, not against us. They should be providing incentives for existing stallholders and to encourage new ones – not creating extra competition.”
Ian Plant, chair of the town council’s leisure and operations committee, has similar reservations.
He said: “The idea of opening a new market has been around for a while, but I can’t see the sense in creating extra competition for existing stallholders.
“I know the High Street market is privately owned and we do want as many shoppers coming to Cheadle as possible, but SMDC should have looked into ways of expanding what we already have rather than starting a new one.
“The proposed site is also wrong as Greyhound Walk is a main thoroughfare from the car park to High Street and it will be difficult to get through if there are eight or more stalls there.”
But town councillor Julie Bull is among those backing the market plan.
She said: “We have to be grateful for small mercies here in Cheadle and if there’s a possibility a market will increase footfall we have to welcome the scheme and support it wholeheartedly.
“A great deal of time, effort and money has been spent on improving markets in Leek and we look forward to that level of investment here.
“Leek has a bustling Sunday trade and it would be great if Cheadle could also see that level of enthusiasm and investment.”
Mrs Bull said she’d seen a number of advertisements for stallholders to join the market.
She added: “Hopefully the new stalls will complement the shops and businesses we already have in the town.
“It’s disappointing Cheadle Town Council wasn’t consulted or even told of the scheme beforehand, but the site does belong to the district council whereas the market is privately owned.”
SMDC issued letters to 18 businesses in the immediate vicinity of Greyhound Walk during a consultation process which started on October 3.
The council received 13 replies – with nine in favour of the plan and six in favour of the proposed location.
Mr Sargeant said: “There should have been an open consultation exercise with the whole community involved, but it wasn’t open to the general public.
“Presumably the district council didn’t invite views from existing market traders as they thought we would object, but the town council wasn’t asked either and there are district councillors in the town who also knew nothing about it.
“What sort of consultation exercise is that? It’s totally inadequate and does not present a balanced view.
“The original market charter was passed down by Henry III in 1250 and I believe there’s a clause in that which is still active which states no one is allowed to open a rival market within a three-mile radius.
“The current High Street facility is operated by Northern Markets so it will be up to Michael Dunne, the owner, whether he wants to challenge that.”
Entrepreneur Sharon Roberts, a member of the Team Cheadle business group, said: “Anything that brings extra shoppers and business to the town is generally a good idea.
“Cheadle is a market town, so of course there should be a market – but whether there should be two is open to question.
“The vast majority of people in the town have not been involved at all in the decision-making process on this and that’s a great pity.
“Members of Team Cheadle, for example, would have liked to have had at least some input, but we have received no information whatsoever.
“I’d like to know what the council will be doing to support existing businesses and the existing market, so I’m very much in two minds about it at the moment.”
Edwin Wain, who has responsibility for markets on Staffordshire Moorlands District Council, said: “Markets are colourful, vibrant events that bring people to a town to enjoy retail and leisure time and we’re keen to bring those benefits to Cheadle by establishing a new weekly outdoor event.
“We’re at the start of this process and are now looking for traders and entrepreneurs who want to join us in this exciting new venture.
“The new initiative will run alongside the existing indoor market and I would urge anyone interested to get in touch as soon as possible.”
A spokesperson for Staffordshire Moorlands District Council said: “At the end of the summer we asked local businesses in the direct vicinity of Greyhound Walk what they thought of our proposals for a 12-month trial outdoor market on Fridays in line with our aim of developing and improving markets in the Moorlands.
“We delivered short feedback forms outlining the plans and the response was generally positive.
“We’re now seeking interest from traders who would like to stand at the proposed new market at a cost of £20 per stall per market day.”
Anyone interested is urged to email email@example.com for more information.
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