Kirkham Market row resolved for now after traders threaten protest at closure of long traditional site
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New temporary pitches outside shops on the town’s main Poulton Street will be available to the three traders affected from Thursday, January 19, after Kirkham town mayor and Fylde councillor Elaine Silverwood stepped following complaints from the traders and market customers.
The change follows the closure of the Market Square for town centre improvement work as part of the Kirkham Futures project,
Why the traders were concerned
The market traders – a fishmonger, fruit and veg retailer and a jewellery stall – claim they were told by Fylde Council that their businesses were to close on the Kirkham Market site with a just week’s notice.
The traders says they endorse the redevelopment plan which has necessitated the closure of Market Square , but that the works have been unexpectedly brought forward, leaving them closing their stalls indefinitely as of last Thursday, January 12.
"Although it is alleged that the redevelopment will mean a temporary relocation by the council, Fylde Council have not found a site for the traders leaving their businesses effectively shutting overnight,” said a spokesman for Nuttall’s Jewellery, one of the traders..
The traders planned a protest in Market Square, claiming they had not been consulted on the works and a proposal, including a date of closure and a timescale of the renovation works, had not been provided to them.
They also expressed fear that any potential move would erode their trade, leading to their businesses closing for good
Where the traders’ new site will be from this week
But Coun Silverwood stepped in after being alerted to the traders’ continuing concerns and the stalls will now set up every Thursday, on Oulton Street, on sites outside Coun Silverwood’s Book, Bean and Ice Cream shop and Green’s Deli on the other side of the road.
"I thought this had been resolved long ago,” said Coun Silverwood. “But when I realised that concerns were still ongoing, we found a temporary resolution and the matter is now sorted.
"As far as I and the other Poulton Street businesses are concerned, the stalls are welcome on market day for as long as necessary.
"With the work now going on around Market Square, people are parking further down now anyway, so hopefully the new sites will help their footfall.
"The market is an important part of Kirkham business and we are delighted to do what we can to help.”
What Fylde Council said
Fylde Council’s Economic Development and Regeneration Team said in a statement: “As soon as the dates for the contractor starting works was communicated to us directly from the contractor and we knew when the legal agreements would be in place we started the process of engaging with various stakeholders ahead of the closure of Eagles Court Car Park on January 9 and the Market Square on January 16.
“Fylde Council has previously carried out consultation events on the Market Square to provide an opportunity for residents and businesses to see the plans for the Public Realm Scheme and for the renovated Market Square.
"These consultations were open to all. The office of the Lord of the Manor was also contacted in December 2022 to inform them of the imminent closure of Market Square and therefore to inform them that a weekly market could therefore not be held for the duration of the works which are expected to be ongoing for up to 52 weeks.
“We spoke with the market organiser on January 9 to confirm the closure of the Market Square as per the contractors confirmation of start dates. Alternative locations for the market have been discussed over the last week with the market organiser and an agreement was reached between the owners of the Book and Bean and Greens Deli and market organiser for the weekly market to be relocated outside of both of these premises with immediate effect on a temporary basis until the works are complete and the market square reopens.
“This arrangement will now be facilitated between the market organiser and the owners of the Book and Bean and Greens Deli.
“Other options have been identified and discussed with the market organiser should the relocation to the Book and Bean and Greens Deli fall through for any reason.
“Following completion of the works on Market Square it will reopen as a market square /events space and the weekly market will have the right to return for its weekly Thursday market under the rights that the Lord of the Manor holds.
"The closure of the Market Square will be for up to 52 weeks until January 2024 which is therefore the anticipated return date for the weekly market to go back onto Market Square.
"If this can be facilitated any sooner then we will inform the market traders directly.
"Prior to the return to the Market Square the Economic Development and Regeneration Team have offered to support the weekly market organiser to assist with communications ready for its return to the square and to support them with business support to grow the market if the market organiser wishes to do so.
“The team will continue to work with businesses in the Town to communicate key milestones in all of the projects under the Kirkham Futures Programme and to provide continued business support throughout.”
Market with a rich history
The market is an historic part of the Kirkham community, protected and documented in the town’s charter since 1296 and Nuttall’s Jewellery has been trading on the market since 1980.
Tom Nuttall of Nuttall’s Jewellery, said: “Having attended Kirkham market for over 40 years and seen many customers come and go myself and my fellow traders would love to continue trading weekly on the street for now and then eventually back on the market square where we can build up a good well attended market for the good of the town.”