Delight for traders as Market Hall saved
TRADERS expressed their delight as Harborough Council voted in favour of saving the Market Hall.
The council will now look at ways to run the hall more commercially, to make more money from it.
That could mean bringing in a firm to manage the hall or allowing traders to run it themselves.
It could see the hall opening seven days a week and money spent on improving the layout, to allow shows and exhibitions to be held.
The extra income made by the council out of the hall will go towards redeveloping the council’s Adam and Eve Street building, a project which will also be funded by council reserves or borrowing, plus a £1.6m contribution from Leicestershire County Council.
Rent from leasing shops and office space at the new look council building will also fund the scheme.
The decision at Monday night’s council meeting marked the completion of a spectacular turnaround in the Market Hall saga.
The council’s original preferred approach was to lease the hall to a big-name retailer to raise funds for the redevelopment of its HQ.
But widespread opposition backed by an 18,000-signature petition, and a lack of realistic takers for the hall prompted a change of heart.
Traders filled the public gallery as councillors voted in favour of the new plans.
Afterwards, trader John Cleaver said: “I thought it was amazing that so many councillors voted for it when it was only a matter of weeks ago that they all seemed to be for it [leasing the Market Hall], apart from the Libe Dems.
“Over the coming months we will work with the council and I think it will be nice to start afresh with them.
“We’ve got to aim for a long-term plan so we can get new businesses coming in. None of the traders have been ivesting in their businesses in recent month because they didn’t know where they stood.
“I would like to give 18,434 huge thankyous to the public and local businesses that have supported the market traders and saved the Market Hall. We’re all very grateful to them.”
Kris Moore, of John Ross butchers, said: “It’s a result for sure. We had public support which was a massive thing for us.
“It would be nice to see an agreement that this won’t be looked at again for the next, say 15 or 20 years, so traders have a guarantee over their future.”
There was some political back-biting during the meeting, as Lib Dem members questioned why this solution could not have been arrived at sooner, without sparking such public anger.
However council leader Michael Rook told the meeting the process had been a necessary one.
He said: “I think what we’ve all been forced to do is focus very clearly on what was needed. We’ve eventually arrived at a solution and I look forward to working with the market traders.”
A statement from the Lib Dem group, issued after the meeting, said: “People felt that they were being ignored and that the council controlling group was ploughing on regardless.
The Liberal Democrats called loud and clear for a rethink of the path that the controlling Tory Group seemed determined to follow.
At long last they seem to have listened. They pulled back from closure suggestion and supported a plan that gives the Market Hall, the traders and the residents the opportunity of a secure future.”
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Weather for Market Harborough
Friday 24 May 2013
Temperature: 4 C to 9 C
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