Traders in Preston’s doomed indoor market hall have been given a formal notice to quit - more than a year before the building is due for demolition.
But council bosses have calmed fears that stallholders are being driven out by revealing the letters are just “a legal procedure we have to follow.”
All the businesses who currently trade in the 43-year-old market hall received a letter this week from the council’s legal advisor informing them their tenancies will end in June next year. The letter also stated: “I am opposed to the grant of a new tenancy.” And it went on: “You may ask the court to order the grant of a new tenancy. If you do I will oppose your application.”
One tenant, who asked not to be named, said the letters had caused “a lot of concern because it sounds like we are being driven out and won’t be part of the new market when it’s built.” He added: “We are taking advice to see what this means legally. It needs explaining because we know that the new smaller market hall won’t be able to accommodate everyone who currently trades in the old one.”
But Coun Robert Boswell explained: “We’re working closely with market traders during this critical period of transition of managing the change from the current market to the new market.
“As the landlord we also have legal obligations to uphold with market traders, not least giving them suitable notice of our intentions for the new market, but also paying compensation where required.
“We are well on the way with this and these letters are the formal notice to quit.
“It’s a legal procedure we have to follow and means as soon as planning permission is granted, we can get on with the job of constructing and then moving to the new market without any un-due delay which will be better for everyone.”