Traders call for support when Blackpool's Abingdon Street Market shuts for refurb
Traders face an uncertain future after being told their leases will not be renewed while Blackpool Council refurbishes Abingdon Street Market.
The council received £3.6m in government grants last year to invest in buying and upgrading the market, which is currently closed due to lockdown.
Some stall holders have now received letters telling them their leases will not be renewed from July so the council can take vacant possession of the building.
But town hall chiefs have pledged to help traders find alternative premises while the market is closed for its upgrade.
Detailed designs for the work have yet to be drawn up, but will involve a comprehensive refurbishment including structural changes and significant maintenance.
The transformation is expected to include space for independent shops and food outlets, office use and performance space.
The council has pledged to keep traders informed of all the changes and says it is “currently exploring options for alternative accommodation for stall
holders during the period for which vacant possession of the market premises is required.”
Alan Cavill, Blackpool Council’s director of communications and regeneration, said: “Blackpool Council is committed to improving the town centre to attract larger visitor numbers and to create a vibrant, modern and exciting place to live, work and enjoy.
“There is an extensive development programme underway which includes the rejuvenation of Abingdon Street Market.
“The council purchased the market on October 16 2020 following the award of government grant funding, with the aim to deliver a more modern, attractive and significantly enhanced market offer in Blackpool.
“The council will be bringing forward proposals for comprehensive refurbishment works and will liaise with the stall holders with an engagement process to be arranged.”
Steve Meyer, manager of Abingdon Street Market Fish, said his company had been trading at the market for 40 years and wanted to ensure it could continue to do so.
He welcomed help from the council to relocate to alternative premises while the market was closed, but said refitting would be expensive as his requirements included specialist chilling units.
He said: “We’re the only wet fish shop in Blackpool, so we want to continue trading in the market and we have a lot of customers who rely on us.
“During lockdown we’ve been doing deliveries of fish. We’d welcome council help to find alternative premises while the market is closed, but it would be quite expensive to fit out.
“We’d like to consider something such as a mobile unit using a van or a trailer in St John’s Square.”
Bernard Power, who owns Mr Smart Ltd menswear in the market, said he was pleased the council had bought the market but warned it was vital to retain the current traders.
He said: “I think councils run markets better than private enterprise, so I was pleased to hear the council was buying it, and the building does need a refurbishment.
“There are some very good traders in Abingdon Street Market who know their stock.
“I’m pleased the council is going to work with us to provide alternative premises while the work is done, but it depends where it is. Someone has mentioned the Winter Gardens.”
Another trader, Sameh Abdelmessih, of SMS Mobility, said: “I welcome the refurbishment, and hope the council is going to find us alternative accommodation and not just kick us all out.”
Blackpool Council received £8.6m last August from the government’s Getting Building Fund aimed at investing in projects deemed capable of creating a fast economic boost, with £3.6m allocated to the market and £5m to the second phase of the Houndshill Centre.
* Thanks for reading. If you value what we do and are able to support us, a digital subscription is just £1 for your first month. Try us today by clicking here