A flower seller who traded outside Harborough’s Market Hall for more than 20 years says she has been forced out by plans to renovate it.
Kellie Harradine has run Kellie’s Flowers for more than 20 years after taking over a family stall which her step-father set up more than 50 years ago.
However, Kellie said she was shocked when Harborough District Council, which owns the hall, told her that her plot near the St Mary’s Place entrance was being given to another trader and that she would have to move into a corner near the entrance to Wilkinson.
She told the Mail: “I had a meeting with one of the people responsible for the refurbishment and it did not go well. The new spot is half the size of the pitch I have now and it’s in direct sunlight, which is no good for my flowers.
“Wilkinson also sell flowers and plants of their own, so I would be competing with them directly.
“I told them there and then that I would be leaving the market and not coming back.”
Work on a £410,000 improvement scheme for the hall is due to start in January.
The council plans to improve lighting, entrances and signage, re-open toilets, remove some of the plinths on which the stalls sit and create a new food hall at the centre of the market.
Kellie said an artist’s impression of the refurbished hall released last month showed a flower stall next to Wilkinson, but that she never imagined the intention was to move her.
She added: “At the time I didn’t think anything of it – I thought it was just a picture to show people what the hall would look like, but I wonder if the idea was to move me all along now.
“I haven’t decided if we’ll move to a different town, it’s early days and I don’t know what I’ll do next. I feel a bit bullied. I don’t think all the traders are being treated equally and I feel like I’ve been forced out – not directly, but through their actions.”
Cllr Paul Bremner, assets portfolio holder on the council, said: “As part of the development a larger and more inviting entrance will be created from St Mary’s Place.
“This will decrease the amount of space available for stalls outside the building.
“Traders have the opportunity to trade from inside the newly-developed hall and benefit from the improved layout that will offer an enhanced shopping experience.
“We have held meetings with traders and welcome further discussions.”