Preston’s market traders have forged a united front with Town Hall bosses to find a new future for the city’s market.
Traders have confirmed they are now working with the council in a bid to convert the covered market into an indoor facility similar to the proposals put forwrd in the ill-fated £700m Tithebarn regeneration plans.
Council leader Peter Rankin said the authority had agreed to put its £2.5m into a pot alongside contributions from traders.
The group is bringing in a specialist market consultants to draw up a business plan to draw up a future for the new-look market.
Coun Rankin said: “We have agreed with the traders that we need to bring someone in who can draw up a business plan which is sustainable.
“There is no point in moving people outside if it is not going to work.
“We are working together with the market traders now, we have managed to find some common ground and are doing what both parties feel is best for the market.”
He added he would be willing to meet with traders on the ‘flea market’, which bring thousands of visitors to the city every Tuesday and Thursday, to discuss their future as a result of any plans.
The leader said: “I recognise the important role they play in the success of the market and, while we have to be looking to create a very high quality offer, I want to ensure as many people as possible are part of that offer.”
Ellen Young, who runs fruit and veg stall, The Banana King, in the indoor market, said traders were “happy at the moment.”
She said: “We are moving forward together with the council. It is all very amicable at the moment.
“They have said they want to keep us all together, because we all feed off each other.”
She said traders expected to have to put in their own money to build up a cash pot capable of converting the covered market into a suitable indoor venue.
The city council has unveiled a vision of demolishing the existing indoor market to make way for a leisure development, including a city centre cinema.
It would use any cash generated from that sale would be pumped in to the regeneration of the market.
Traders had previously been outraged at plans to knock down the indoor market, arguing the council had failed to maintain the building.
The council is talking with developers about its proposals.