Traders feeling the chill inside Preston's new market hall
The Beast from the East has left its mark on Preston's newly opened market hall, forcing bosses to roll out contingency plans.
Since opening last month, the multi-million pound facility has been battling complaints about freezing temperatures under the Victorian canopy.
And the situation has been exacerbated by the cold snap currently engulfing the county.
The drop in temperature has put the new plumbing system under pressure and temporary heating has been installed to help out traders struggling in the Arctic conditions.
Council bosses have leapt to the defence of the flagship scheme, highlighting the extreme weather is posing “challenging circumstances.”
They state the market is performing well with “excellent” visitor numbers and positive feedback.
Coun Boswell, deputy leader and cabinet member of environment and community, said: “The extreme cold weather and heaters not operating as anticipated has resulted in the freezing temperatures currently being experienced.“We are in this together and truly appreciate the challenging circumstances the traders are facing at the moment and we are doing everything we can.
“A range of short term solutions have and are being put in place and additional long-term measures are also being looked into.
“We thank traders for their patience while we work through these extreme conditions. We also want to extend our thanks to customers for their continued support of the market and its traders.”
Responding to images posted on social media of frozen taps at one of the stalls, council leader Coun Peter Rankin said: “I understand the traders’ misery especially after we spent Â£5m on the fantastic building. “Officers know they must do all they can to alleviate the cold.
“But it’s excessively unusual to get cold as bad as it is. Remember last winter? I don’t recall cold as bad as this.”
An account set up on Twitter called the Preston Market Thermometer has highlighted some of the issues facing the traders. One post reads: “Customers complain about freezing temps, reluctant to spend time there.”
Sam Livesey, chairman of the Preston Market Traders’ Association, said meetings have been held over the last few days with council officials.
His colleagues are staying positive but there are issues that need sorting, he added.
He said: “This is as bad as it gets in terms of Lancashire weather but you would have thought these things would have been highlighted in the consultancy phase beforehand.
“It’s not been ideal for the stallholders, it has been a struggle over the last few days.
“The heating has to be made a priority, we were promised an ambient temperature, which can mean a number of things, but we would expect conditions where customers can sit and enjoy a coffee, for example.
“I feel for my colleagues on those stalls, like the coffee shops. The last few days the temperature hasn’t got above zero. Hopefully they can get it sorted out.
“We don’t want to be seen as moaning Minnie’s, we just want the right environment. And we also want our customers to know we’re here trading and we need their support.”
A spokesman for the Rainflorist flower stall said reports their stock had been lost because it was frozen are not accurate.
They told the Lancashire Post: “We’re not complaining, if anything the cold is good for the flowers.
“At the end of the day, it’s just something we have to get on with.
“It’s nobody’s fault.”
Last week concerns were raised about the market during a council meeting.
Elected members voiced concerns such as faults with card payment systems and a reported lack of heating.
The town hall had said heating devices for each stall had been repositioned to make them more effective.