Market traders have today launched plans to convert a large covered market into a purpose-built facility which would secure their future in Preston.
Beleaguered traders at Preston’s Indoor Market have been battling Preston Council’s plans to bulldoze the market and move their stalls outside to make way for a cinema complex.
But today, traders have launched a plan to form a cooperative with the council to convert the large outdoor covered market into an indoor facility, similar to the Tithebarn proposals.
The plan would see each trader paying thousands of pounds for a stake in the cooperative, while Preston Council would use the £2.5m it has already pledged, along with cash generated from the sale of the current site.
Ellen Young, who runs the Matthew Wade Banana King stall, said: “We are trying to put something together ourselves, we are trying to do up the big market outside and enclose it, which would be big enough to fit everybody in.
“We have drawn up some plans and the council quite likes them, they just want them tweaked.”
Ellen said the market, which would see the covered fish market used for food preparations and loading, would be the perfect solution for traders and the council.
She said: “It would not be as elaborate as the Tithebarn, it would just be the ground floor, but the council told us the money they get from the sale of the current site would be ploughed back into the new market.
“They have already got the money they pledged originally and, because the outdoor money is listed, we will be able to go for funding, and there will be cash from all of us chipping in.
“We are all really excited by this and we really believe it could work.”
The traders recently presented a near 1,900-strong petition against plans to close the market to a full Preston Council meeting, but the council voted to press ahead.
Michael Clarke who runs WB Clarke and Sons, said: “It is a plan that keeps everybody on board, it keeps everybody together and stops them being at loggerheads.
“Everybody will have something they want and, if we want to run it as a cooperative between the council and ourselves, I am sure we will come to the right decisions.
“This could create something which everybody can be proud of, and there would not be any job losses.
“The council is going to go away to draw up plans up to enclose the outside market, and we are all going to come back after the Guild to see what we can fund.
“I am sure it will go forwards, I am convinced it will.
“I am happy with it and everybody should be – the council and members of the public.
“Everybody gets what they want.”
Preston Council leader Peter Rankin, said: “We are very happy to support the market traders in the setting up of a cooperative, that is one of the council’s objectives, to increase cooperatives in the city.
“But we have got a long way to go, and it just remains to be seen whether we can get exactly what both the council and traders want.
“I think we have got off to a good start, and people are being really positive.
“Officers are now finding out exactly what the requirements of the traders are to carry on their businesses.
“There was going to be the possibility of a market funded through the Tithebarn scheme, and we are re-visiting these plans to see what’s possible.
“It is all going to come down to funding.”
Coun Rankin confirmed any cash from the sale of the current market would be invested in the market scheme, and he would meet traders again after the Guild.