Beleaguered market traders have claimed their demolition-threatened market could be saved for millions of pounds less than council bosses previously claimed.
Preston Council has announced plans to demolish the city’s Indoor Market and move the traders outside to the covered Fish Market, making way for a new cinema and retail complex.
A surveyor’s report found revamping the Indoor Market would cost £6,311,000 and council bosses said with only £2,500,000 to spend there was no alternative demolish it.
But traders have today claimed up to £3m could be slashed from the cost of the revamp without impacting on the safety of the market hall.
Among them is a total of £2m for the replacement of stalls which traders claim is their own responsibility and many of them have spent thousands of pounds overhauling their pitches.
A price of £500,000 has been quoted for the revamp of two food preparation rooms which measure roughly 12ft by 23ft and contains work benches, a sink and a tiled wall.
And it states £200,000 would be required for internal redecoration and external fascias and signage, while ceramic wall and floor tiles would cost £560,000.
Butcher Michael Clarke who runs WB Clarke and Sons, said: “The stalls are the responsibility of the tenants, the fixtures, fittings and actual structure. “I recently spent £22,000 and that included plumbing, re-wiring, new floor, drainage, electricity, sinks and new signage.
“With refrigeration it cost me an awful lot more but it is the responsibility of the stallholders to do that and not the council.
“And the two food preparation rooms, they are 14ft by 23ft, even if they did them in gold leaf they would not be able to come to £500,000.
“There is a steel bench in there which does not need replacing, it has only been in about three years.
“None of these things are structural or about keeping the building from being unsafe and that is the ticket they have sold the idea of moving on.
“It is cosmetic not structural. If they were saying a pillar is crumbling and the front end is going to fall down I could understand. But we are talking about fascias.”
Ellen Young who runs the Matthew Wade Banana King stall, said: “A few years ago they replaced the doors and windows at the front. What do they want to replace those for again?
“They don’t need replacing yet, they cannot be 10 years old.
“And fascias and new signs are not essential.
“The tiles on the walls look fine to me too.”
The council has also stated the car park has structural deficiencies and the report said £1,567,000 was needed to bring it up-to-date, with the majority of cost going on concrete repairs, replacing barriers and a new lift.
Ellen added: “Car parks draw lots of money in and even if they needed to build a new one, surely it could be made to pay for itself. “The St George’s Centre car park was re-built without closing the centre down.”
Preston Council leader Peter Rankin, said: “These are the complete refurbishment costs of bringing them up-to-date that should have been done as time went past.
“Obviously nothing did get done so the place has not changed much since it was built.
“There are things that are not totally essential but we would still be putting a massive amount into that building which has a limited life and really is not good value for taxpayers’ money.”