Indoor market traders have spoken of their disappointment after Preston councillors did not back their appeal to save their building.
Almost 1,900 people signed a Save Our Market petition, in support of the stallholders’ fight to keep the indoor market in its current location and refurbish the neglected building.
The traders are against plans to demolish their current home to make way for a cinema and move them to the outdoor covered fish market, with some relocated into the streets.
Lady Milena Grenfell Baines made an impassioned plea on behalf of the traders yesterday at a full council meeting in the Town Hall, where the public gallery was packed with supporters.
She said: “The proposal to move tenants out to the fish market is ill-conceived and has not been thought though. We would like to propose the council and officers sit down with tenants and work out a way of refurbishing the market hall in its current location.”
Council leader Peter Rankin said the council simply need not have the £6m needed to upgrade the current hall and described the neglect was a “legacy of Tithebarn.”
The Labour councillor said: “Our solution and proposals are not ideal, I recognise that.
“But we are in a perilous financial situation. We don’t have the money to deliver what the market traders are asking for in this petition. The course of action in the petition will only take the market up a blind alley.”
Conservative group leader Ken Hudson queried the estimated costs for refurbishment work, adding: “While we have not got the actual money, we have not got at this moment in time a developer or a cinema either.”
Liberal Democat leader Bill Shannon added: “However sympathetic we feel towards the traders, what we are being asked to do here is just not possible.”
Coun Rankin suggested the council continues to work with traders, continues to look for the “best design solution” for the market that fitted in with resources, and also seeks more opportunities for additional funding - but did not support the indoor market staying where it is. His proposals were passed with backing from the Labour and Lib Dem group.
Speaking after the meeting, market traders said they feared for the future. Norman Young of Banana King said: “It’s a disappointing day for traders and the people of Preston. They want to fit us everyone in that small space. It’s open air where there’ll be rodents - most of us have a five-star hygiene rating at the moment.”
Butcher Adrian Livesey added: “To do our job properly we need space. It must be fit for purpose.”