Traders raise concerns over market
TRADERS on Royston Market say there are growing fears for its future. Concerns have arisen after North Herts District Council advertised for private companies to take over the running of the Wednesday and Saturday markets from September. Nick Charter, w
TRADERS on Royston Market say there are growing fears for its future.
Concerns have arisen after North Herts District Council advertised for private companies to take over the running of the Wednesday and Saturday markets from September.
Nick Charter, who has run the market's fruit and veg stall for the last six years, said his main worry of a private company taking over is the possible increase in rent.
He said: "There's a possibility that the market could be taken over. But if it does go private my main concern would be the increase in rent, which they would probably want to do. The prices are already too high, so I could see a lot of traders leaving as a result.
"It's just another step to closing the market and it's a big worry to our livelihoods. I think everyone's worried about the market's future, but I can't see anything we can do about it."
A number of companies have expressed an initial interest in the market ahead of the application closing date on April 20.
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Craig Skeath, who runs the market's jewellery stall with Louise Sentinella, said that he feels let down that no-one from the district council has told them what is happening.
"I don't think anyone knows exactly what's going on," he said. "At the end of the day this is the way we make a living and if something is going to effect that then we should know."
However, Craig, who has been working in the market for two and a half years, said that he did support the idea of a private firm, as long as it improved the current standards of the market.
"If someone does come in they need to bring new ideas with them.
"The market needs promoting and if anything more traders will need to be brought in. There's a lot of empty pitches," said Craig.
He added: "If they do decide to put prices up, I think it must also reflect its own ambitions. The problem I would have is paying more money for the same standards, but if changes are made then that's fine."
Louise said: "If the market does close it would be a real shame. My other worry is the fact some traders are talking about leaving - you don't want to see that."
At the moment half of the 60 pitches are currently used, with Paul Bell of the market's pet stall ending its trade next month after 10 years in the market.
With traders leaving the market and others fearful of their future, Andy Tucker of FE Tucker and Sons remains much more upbeat.
Andy whose family have been working in the market since 1956 said: "At the moment I'm not panicking too much. There are always rumours flying around the market and you hear so many stories.
"However, I can see why people are worried. Privatising the market is a concern and an increase in rent would definitely be a bad move. I've seen it happen elsewhere and it can be the end of a market.
"But until we are told for certain I will carry on like I have been. The market means a lot to my family and we will continue to trade like we have been.