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Shock as market hall set to close

Market Hall, Poulton le Fylde. Centre manager George McCaffer and Barbara Whittaker (Victorian Arts and Crafts).

Market Hall, Poulton le Fylde. Centre manager George McCaffer and Barbara Whittaker (Victorian Arts and Crafts).

TRADERS have spoken of their shock over plans to close a market hall where they have worked for more than 20 years.

Businesses at the Market Hall, formerly Village Walks, in Poulton, were issued with a letter from owners Dransfield Properties telling them they would close the facility in July.

It follows an announcement the company had scrapped plans to convert the current building into a supermarket and build a new centre to re-home traders.

And the developer now says the hall is no longer financially viable without support for their regeneration plans.

Amanda Holmes, of Dransfield Properties, told The Gazette: “We have had to make the difficult decision of closing the centre.”

“Unfortunately we cannot continue to subsidise the Market Hall.”

Barbara Whittaker, who has run Victorian Arts and Crafts shop in the centre for 22 years, said the announcement was a major blow.

She added: “We feel like the carpet has been pulled from under us. The last thing was they were going for this new building and we would have a new position in there.”

Dransfield, which took over the running of the hall in August 2010, has said without wider support needed for its regeneration plans it was unable to continue to subsidise the hall.

Traders now say they will now be looking for other units to move to in Poulton.

Alison Coldwell, owner of Happy Feet, said: “I’m devastated because there’s not a lot of empty premises in Poulton. I’ve got no idea what I’m going to do except look for an empty shop.

“There’s been a lot of shock and tears. I don’t know how they can just announce this to us.”

Town hall leaders expressed their sympathy and said they will work to find other investors for the building.

Wyre Council Coun Peter Gibson said: “When the Poulton Area Forum met a few months ago a representative of Dransfield said they would commit to Market Hall if their proposal didn’t go through.

“I’m not sure the whole thing makes financial sense in that Dransfield are saying its costing money to be there but they are getting rid of tenants who pay rent and will still have costs towards that building.

“In the meantime, Wyre will be having discussions to see if Market Hall can be made attractive to another investor.”

Shopper Roger Critchley, of Poplar Avenue, Poulton, said: “I think it’s come as a bit of a shock to traders, it’s putting people’s jobs at risk. For Dransfield to walk away in such a way that people’s livelihoods are at risk is not ideal.”

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