Anger over market redevemopment

Councillors Sue Phillips, David Holland and Tracey Leyland-Jepson, pictured at Mexborough Market where plans have been revealed to transform the outdoor market. Picture: Marie Caley DS1030MC
Councillors Sue Phillips, David Holland and Tracey Leyland-Jepson, pictured at Mexborough Market where plans have been revealed to transform the outdoor market. Picture: Marie Caley DS1030MC

Plans to transform Mexborough’s outdoor market were thrown into turmoil this week after a survey allegedly showed hundreds of shoppers and the majority of traders are against the scheme.

Work is due to begin this month on a £400, 000 council project to demolish the rigid outdoor stalls on York Square and replace them with gazebo style pop-ups.

Wendy Bailey

Wendy Bailey

But disgruntled stallholders said they have carried out their own survey which revealed just two out of about 40 market traders are in favour of the project. In addition, only 12 shoppers out of about 400 said they supported the scheme in another poll.

The majority want the permanent stalls to remain and would instead like to see the money spent on a new roof.

Traders claim they have been frozen out of a consultation led by Mexborough councillors over the last several months. They are now due for crisis talks with Doncaster mayor Ros Jones next week in which they will call for a complete re-think on the project.

Chris Chantler, 58, vice chair of the Mexborough branch of the National Market Traders Federation, said: “The majority of traders do not want the rigid stalls to go.

Chris Chantler of Mexborough Indoor Market.

Chris Chantler of Mexborough Indoor Market.

“The pop ups are too flimsy. They have tested them on the High Street and they blew over.

“The general consensus is traders want the rigid stalls to stay and the money to be spent on improving the roof, which leaks.

“We will be asking the mayor to stop proceeding ahead with this scheme and come up with a new plan to simply replace or fix the roof.”

Wendy Bailey, federation chair, added traders would be making their views known to mayor Jones during a meeting at Doncaster Council’s Civic Offices on Monday, April 7.

She said: “We get information drip fed. One person from one department says one thing, and then another says something else.

“We want a hard copy version of the plans so we know what we are dealing with. We need to see if they will reconsider before they start ripping up the stalls.”

Outdoor trader Gordon Smith said: “The rigid stalls are sturdy and will last for years to come. They should stay. All we want is the roof fixing.”

Before Christmas, Mexborough councillors’ sent out a press release explaining work is due to start on site in April 2014 and is expected for completion by October.

Ward members issued another statement last week inviting the public to view artists’ impressions of the new market at a meeting on March 25.

However, the meeting was cancelled days later with councillor David Holland explaining that they were “not quite ready yet to go ahead with this.”

A Doncaster Council spokesman said there are still no artists’ impressions ready to release yet but added: “The mayor is meeting with traders (on April 7) and looks forward to listening to all points of view.”

Coun Holland said: “The traders have been involved with the consultation. We have held public meetings and exhibitions which they have been invited to attend.

“Everyone concerned has been able to have their say and the majority we have spoken to are in favour of the plans.

“This will revitalise the market and we are sure it will increase footfall into the town. Shops on the High Street will also benefit.”

Work to remove rigid stalls this month is still due to go ahead, unless the mayor calls a halt to the scheme at next week’s meeting.

Outdoor traders will be given pop-up stalls to trade from the High Street during the works.

This will create a public open space in York Square for pop up stalls that can be put up and taken down at the end of each trading day. Doncaster Community Arts hopes to use part of a £2.5 million funding package to host arts-based performances in the square.

There is also a plan for retractable bollards at the top and bottom of the High Street to stop vehicles illegally using it as a thoroughfare.

Shoppers can also expect to see new street furniture, seats and planters, along with new paving and improved signage.

The £400, 000 has been allocated through a mixture of central and local government funding schemes to improve market areas.