The great Market Hall debate: Council opens door to new options

Harborough Market traders on the Square last thursday. (Picture: Andrew Carpenter/001332-53)
Harborough Market traders on the Square last thursday. (Picture: Andrew Carpenter/001332-53)

FRESH options for contentious proposals to move Harborough’s market are to include plans for some indoor trading and the possibility of moving stall-holders to The Square.

New town centre design proposals set to be unveiled by Harborough District Council next Thursday will aim to address concerns raised by the community over the controversial issue, the authority says.

The surprise announcement comes on the eve of a protest march by traders, who insist they will not leave the indoor Market Hall.

The council revealed in January proposals to regenerate its Adam and Eve Street headquarters in a project which would be funded by the lease of the Market Hall to a big-name retailer.

Its preferred option to put traders in Fox Yard behind the council offices sparked fury, with many people fearing the move would put an end to the market.

But in an announcement on Tuesday, the council said it had asked its architects to produce new designs to include indoor market trading and more independent shops.

News of the new design proposals came as a shock even to some district councillors.

One, who sits on the Transformation Board which is helping put together the proposals, said no options for the market other than Fox Yard had ever been discussed in the board’s various meetings.

People will be invited to have their say on the plans during exhibitions being held in town (see story left).

Speaking to the Mail this week, council leader Mike Rook said the council had not ruled out the possibility of the market moving to The Square, if that was what people suggested.

Market trader John Cleaver said the option of a split market with stalls in Fox Yard, next to the Old Grammar School in Church Square and in The Square had been put to traders during a recent meeting with the council’s chief executive Anna Graves.

But he added: “As far as we’re concerned all the traders want to stay together as a market.

“The advantage of the Market hall is we have everything under one roof. If it’s scattered it will lose its impact.”

The district council’s opposition group said in a statement yesterday (Wednesday): “Cllr Rook should have listened to the public before releasing the original proposal - it has caused awful lot of distress and upset.”