Trader questions viability of Birkenhead Market relocation plans

A trader has called the local authority’s plans to possibly relocate Birkenhead Market to a former Argos unit as “grossly unfeasible.”

Will Featherstone was asking a question at a Wirral Council economy and regeneration committee meeting following reporting of council’s plans for a “temporary decant” of market traders to the former Argos behind the bus station in Birkenhead.

The plans were first reported by the LDRS and the council has already confirmed it has spent £24,000 on these new plans. This is after it confirmed it was reviewing its proposals for a brand new market at the House of Fraser site in light of the Pyramids and the Grange shopping centre purchases.

Mr Featherstone said he believed that Wirral Council “are planning to create a minimarket” and argued the plans would only provide 33 stalls compared to 100 occupied stalls at the existing market.

He said, “This minimarket proposal is grossly unfeasible and 60 stalls short of what our community need. Why are officers considering such a small market for Birkenhead?”

He said he had contacted the shops on either side of the Argos who said the council had no intention of relocating them.

Committee chair Cllr Tony Jones said, “The high-level feasibility for the Argos store confirms the ability for it to contain 64 ten by ten metre stalls and all the required back of house storage and facilities that the traders would require.”

He added he did not agree with the description of the plans as a “minimarket.”

Other market traders also asked questions of the committee. David French said, “This committee has pledged on many occasions that Birkenhead will have a traditional market at the heart of the town centre, a market that Birkenhead residents can be proud of.

“It’s clear a lot of money has already been on the St Werburgh’s Market proposal. Now officers have spent £24,000 on the Argos minimarket proposal.

“Why has there never been any meaningful consultation with our community? Why are we ignored?”

Cllr Jones, said, “No decision has been made in respect of the market and the question relates to a potential market option.” He said initial feasibility studies needed to assess if the Argos “was of a sufficient size and configuration to accommodate traders.”

He added, “It would be a completely pointless exercise to engage traders if the option was not physically acceptable.”

Councillors were later told that a report on the market would come to the committee in December. Cllr Jo Bird said, “It’s clear that the market proposal needs to come to this committee in some form or other sooner rather than later.”

Image: www.birkenhead2020.com

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