Traders given until end of the month to clear out closed St John’s Market

Traders will be given until the end of the month to remove their stock from St Johns Market after its shock closure.

Staff and shoppers were left outside drawn shutters and locked doors earlier this week, when it was confirmed the city council had shut the historic market less than six months after announcing it was seeking to claim back around £1.7m in unpaid rent.

Last Autumn, officials had said they wanted to find an amicable solution with business owners but with no acceptable offer forthcoming, took the decision to lock traders out.

Now, the process is underway to clear out the site, with a deadline set to vacate the lots.

In the autumn, amid what the local authority described as a “high level” of money owed, the city sought to claw back funds from traders dating back to 2020. At that stage, the market cost Liverpool Council just under £1m a year to subsidise.

Cllr Nick Small, cabinet member for growth and economy, sought to explain the city’s position online. He said the council was looking at options moving forward.

He added, “The council invited traders to make meaningful offers about repaying the £1.7m arrears and repeatedly extended deadlines to do so. No meaningful offers were made.

“The last correspondence from the council was to traders’ solicitors warned them that a response was required by return or the stalls would be closed. No response was received.

“I’m disappointed that the council was forced down this road, but this is about £1.7m arrears that’s owed to residents of the city – funding that could be used for libraries, children in care, vulnerable older people and cleaning out streets.”

The LDRS understands the process of removing items from the market site is underway, with an aim to have it vacated fully by the end of the month.

According to the city council, 13 of the 43 non-paying businesses made no offer. They said 30 made a repayment last week of 33% for future costs, which they said was the same offer made during a previous mediation process in 2022. The council said this offer does not represent “best value” to the residents of Liverpool and has been rejected.

Colin Laphan, chair of the St Johns Market Traders Association claimed the council has pursued a policy of “managed decline,” when it comes to St Johns. Speaking about the closure of the market, he said, “It was an absolute shock, there was no legal warning.

“We had staff turning up and being turned away and we were fielding calls all day. People are panicking about their jobs, about their livelihoods, they don’t know what is going to happen.”

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