Trading places in the market of tomorrow

Preston's doomed indoor market would have been more or less brand new when my mum and gran led wee me into its gleaming halls for the first time.

Monday, 18th July 2016, 6:34 am
Updated Monday, 18th July 2016, 8:39 am
LEP Columnist Barry Freeman

The fish aisle, full to the gills both sides with the finest freshest fruits of the sea, and we probably went there to pick up a bit of whiting for Friday’s fish pie, or a pair of kippers for grandad.

This was the beginning of a long relationship with arguably Preston’s most criminally undervalued asset, one now to be tossed aside in favour of a gimmicky ‘quarter’ which could easily have gone somewhere else.

It was there that I bought the bruised bananas which kept me alive in the deepest depths of doledrum; myriad bits and bobs to fix up this or that (from what was for most of my life the town’s finest and most affordable hardware outlet); the jelly pork pies which enlivened many an LEP ‘Jacob’s Join’ – the list could go on and on.

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But it won’t. It will end next June, under the wrecking ball, and last month the council set about giving those traders still making a go of our indoor market the bum’s rush.

Which would be fair enough if they were able to give these people an assurance there will be space for them in the refurbished covered market outside, but for obvious reasons they cannot. Well, I say obvious reasons. Beggared if I know why they can’t guarantee a future for some of the longest standing truly local businesses in the city centre.

My opinion? They’re holding out for members of the four quid pork pie brigade who periodically roll into Preston for one of those raids they call Farmers’ Markets – but by all means prove me wrong.

And meanwhile the market traders are left hanging.

Some have already shut up shop and cleared out (not least that marvellous hardware stall) others fight on, making a living for today, crossing their fingers for tomorrow.

But they will not – and nor should they – go quietly, and on August 20 a carnival will take place at the market. A celebration of what remains the greatest concentration of local traders in the city centre, and a reminder that despite the chaos they are still there, serving thousands every week, just as they have for so many years.

Go along. Help these traders thrive. Pressure the council into finding them space in the market to come.