Butcher Michael Clarke has vowed to shut down his family business after almost a century if Preston’s indoor market goes outdoors in the next two years.
Ellen Young, from six generations of fruit and veg sellers, admits she dreads moving back into the cold after more than four decades inside.
They are just two of the established traders who fear a council plan to demolish the run-down building and replace it with a cheaper alternative will spell the end of the road for indoor stalls.
Council leader Peter Rankin sent traders a letter this week confirming plans to demolish the building – together with its adjacent multi-storey car park – and provide alternative “affordable” accommodation under the Victorian canopies of the outdoor market.
“We feel terribly let down,” said Ellen, whose Banana King business moved inside when the market hall was opened in the early 1970s. “I’ve stood on the market all my life and I don’t understand why they need to pull this place down. It’s turned full circle for me because we used to be on the outdoor market before we moved into here. Now it looks like we’re going back outside.”
Michael, whose butchery firm was established in 1916, added: “Goodness knows what they will come up with, but I won’t be moving into it. I can’t see my meat counters, one of which cost £55,000, fitting on an outside stall. It will be the end for our business. I’ve already decided that.”
Coun Rankin told traders: “The council is committed to the future of Preston Market and we see the markets as an important element of the future regeneration of the city centre. Clearly the challenge will be to balance the requirements of market traders with the money the council has available for the new market.”
The current building and car park, he said, was “past its useful life and beyond economic repair” and would therefore be coming down.
Coun Rankin told the Evening Post: “We are doing what we can. We will work with the traders as soon as we appoint an architect for the project. Until we do that we don’t know what is going to be possible. The building is not in a good condition and would require £10m of repairs to bring it up to scratch.”