A tobacconist business looks set to go up in smoke after being refused a place in Preston’s new indoor market.
Staff at Cheapasmokes, which has been trading in the old market hall for more than 26 years, are facing redundancy when traders switch sites on December 2.
A petition urging the city council to think again has already gathered hundreds of signatures. And manageress Tracey Hooper said: “We think it’s just because we sell tobacco. We don’t fit the image they are trying to promote with the new market hall.
“Four of us will be made redundant. It’s a shock because this is a long established business and we serve 6,300 customers a week.
“It’s only a small stall, so it wouldn’t be difficult to fit us in. You’d think they would look after businesses that have been on the market for as long as we have.”
The new market hall is expected to be up and running by the beginning of December. But not all traders have been able to get a place. Cheapasmokes lodged an appeal, but that was rejected too.
“Apparently they’re going to have a bar, so what’s wrong with a business selling tobacco? ” said Tracey.
Adrian Phillips, the council’s director of environment said: “Applications for the new market hall have been highly competitive. Unfortunately it’s inevitable some applicants will be disappointed.
“However, the application process is confidential and it would be inappropriate to comment on individual applications.”
Cheapasmokes say looking for shop premises in the city centre “would not be an affordable option.”