A COUNCIL leader faced angry market traders who claimed they had been ‘left to fend for ourselves’ during a council revamp of their units.
Chesterfield market hall saw the drama unfold on Tuesday lunchtime when Cllr John Burrows made the unusual step of taking borough council officers to meet traders and customers in a heated exchange.
Popular butchers, a fishmonger and the market cafe all say they have been left with nowhere to go - after allegedly been told they were ‘priorities’ – during the hall’s £4 million refurbishment next year.
Some said they were in limbo, others fearing job losses and even closure of their historic establishments because the council last week said could not provide them with alternatives like a shop and they were now struggling to find viable, affordable options alone before work starts next February.
A temporary building that will house other traders from when work starts in February is unsuitable as it does not have running water to meet hygiene standards.
“I have got this (unit) and that’s it so if I can’t find a premises I’m out of business”, said Chris Norton, manager of W Hodkin butchers, an institution since 1861.
“If I can’t find any alternative I have to shut for a year and by that time trade has gone.
“We’ve been left to fend for ourselves.”
Upset customers contacted media after been told W Hodkin, fellow butchers R B Elliotts and Son and William Howe fishmongers had no temporary accommodation.
But during Cllr Burrows’ impromptu visit there were claims and counter claims regarding previous meetings or conversations, sites offered or available and miscommunications with passers-by also making comments.
He told all traders the council was doing “all it could” to help and urged each one to meet him privately at the town hall for discussions.
“You will get from me everything that can be done to resolve this problem”, he said.
“I can’t be any clearer than that, I can’t be any fairer than that.
“I haven’t got a magic wand because you’ve got to look for places yourselves.
“I’m not prepared to start talking about money, about subsidies because it isn’t there, we haven’t got it and if we did it for one we’d have to do it for everybody.”
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By Ellen Beardmore