Shop traders around Oastler Market have accused Bradford Council of just paying “lip-service” to a consultation on a scheme to merge the city’s two markets.
Jeff Frankel, of Sydney’s Jewellers, said every trader in John Street, Rawson Road and Northgate surrounding the market had sent a signed letter to market and Council bosses expressing their views.
They said they would not want to move to the Kirkgate site if it was extended and wanted the Oastler Market and themselves to stay as they are.
“There has not been a proper consultation at all,” Mr Frankel said “Out of everyone we sent the letter to, only the Council leader Dave Green got back to us – there was no other acknowledgement from anyone else.
“Every single trader signed that letter, except the Ministry of Food which is run by the Council.
“As far as we’re concerned there has not been a proper enough consultation for a report to be made and be presented to the Council. The consultation they’ve done is nothing more than lip-service to a consultation.”
Mr Frankel was speaking in response to a Council report summarising the findings of the consultation and questionnaire which will be put before the Regeneration and Economy Overview and Scrutiny Committee next week.
As reported in yesterday’s Telegraph & Argus, the report states that the authority is now taking the merger idea to the next stage by drawing up a business plan but it also admits that the final plan for the future of the city markets is “not likely to find support from all traders”.
There are three possible options: l an enlarged Kirkgate market l an enlarged Oastler Shopping Centre l or a joint market somewhere else.
A preferred option should be decided by May or June.
But Mr Frankel and other traders, who sent the letter in October, are critical of the process so far.
Mr Frankel said: “A consultation is supposed to be a two-way thing, people are supposed to speak to each other. All there has been is one meeting about a year ago and then a one-sheet questionnaire. It’s not enough. We want reassurances there will be thorough and detailed consultations.”
Regeneration bosses believe the city will be unable to sustain two markets in the future, especially once Westfield’s Broadway shopping centre opens but the resounding response from traders is that they did not want to move.
The Council’s portfolio holder for markets, Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, said: “I went to visit Mr Frankel personally just last week. I can quite understand why people don’t want to move, it’s disruptive to their business, however no decision has yet been made.
“The regeneration scrutiny committee has asked to see regular updates on the markets and that is why the report has been produced. We are only mid-way through looking at the different options for the future of the markets. “Most people would agree that with Westfield coming we have to now look at other parts of the city centre.
“Our markets are a big part of the shopping offer in this part of the city and therefore it’s vitally important that we make the right decision for their future, so they continue to be successful not just for now but for decades to come.”