We don’t want to move – that’s the resounding message from the vast majority of traders as the Council forges ahead with the development of a scheme to merge the city’s two markets.
Bradford Council is considering whether to combine the Kirkgate Market and Oastler Shopping Centre into one extra-large market but its location has yet to be decided.
Regeneration bosses believe the city will be unable to sustain two markets in years to come, especially once Westfield’s Broadway shopping centre opens.
The Council has put forward three possible sites:
- an enlarged Kirkgate Market,
- an enlarged Oastler Shopping Centre
- or a new joint market somewhere else entirely, probably close to the Broadway site.
But the results of a consultation questionnaire sent to market tenants reveal for the first time the scale of their opposition to moving their stalls.
Traders have raised concerns about losing business during any move or refurbishment. Some were also worried about whether all current tenants would be guaranteed a place in a new larger market.
Traders were asked which of the three merger options they preferred.
At Kirkgate, a total of 93 per cent of tenants wanted to see any merged market located there and none wanted it at Oastler.
Meanwhile, at Oastler, 61 per cent of traders wanted the new enlarged market there and none wanted it at Kirkgate.
A few preferred the idea of a new site somewhere else.
A new Council report summarising the findings states: “The majority of traders indicated their preference was to remain in the market venue where they currently trade. This is likely to be the case until more detailed proposals are developed for their consideration.”
Kathryn Sutcliffe, director of The Joke Shop Ltd, and member of Kirkgate Market Committee, said a merger of both markets would not help as tenants cannot be guaranteed the same sales point as they now have. She is also against moving to Oastler as it is not as central as Kirkgate Market.
“I think it’s a non-starter,” she said. “They couldn’t build on here. We’d have to move out because it’s not something they could do while we’re in here. I’m at the front now. If they merge, I might be right at the back.”
But David Crompton, proprietor of A.J Pickup & Son Butchers and a member of Oastler Market Committee, spoke in support of a merger.
“We have two markets that have a lot of empty stalls. We’d be better with one market with full tenancy and nearer to the centre,” he said.
Bradford Council’s portfolio holder for markets, Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, insisted traders would be listened to and that no final decision had been made.
She said: “We are only half-way there. We are not at the decision-making stage yet, we are still in consultation.”
Coun Hinchcliffe said she was not surprised that traders were wary of the proposals when they were at such an early stage.
She said: “I can quite understand why they wouldn’t want any disruption.”
She said in particular, it was difficult for traders to give feedback on the idea of opening a joint market on a brand new site when they didn’t yet know where it could be.
The report, by strategic director of regeneration Barra Mac Ruairi, will go before the Council’s Regeneration and Economy Overview and Scrutiny Committee next week.
It says the authority is now taking the merger idea to the next stage by drawing up a business plan.
Chartered surveyors are being asked to assess all three proposals to help the authority find a preferred option. This should be completed by May or June.
There will be further consultation with market traders and others, but Mr Mac Ruairi admits that the final plan for the future of the city markets is “not likely to find support from all traders”.