By Matt Jarram, Local Democracy Reporter
Councillors demanded answers on the future of Nottingham’s most historic market which could face closure leaving traders without jobs.
Nottingham City Council has put forward a proposal to review its operation of the market in the Victoria Centre, which opened in July 1972.
Closing it would save the Labour-run authority £39m over the remaining 50 years of its current arrangement.
The council says it must consider the market’s future because customer demand for it is falling, and it is paying a substantial subsidy to keep it going.
Some traders blamed high rents, lack of investment from the council, and a failure to bring in new businesses for the decline.
At a full council meeting on Monday, May 9, opposition councillors called for answers from the Labour-run authority.
Nottingham Independent Cllr Kirsty Jones said: “I’m sure I speak for many here when I say how sad I feel reading the recent reports of the council weighing up the decision to exit from the lease for the Victoria Market.
“Can the portfolio holder inform us what plans are being put in place so, were the Victoria Market to close, the traders would not be left out of pocket and alternative trading sites could be provided for them?”
Cllr Andrew Rule, opposition Conservative leader at Nottingham City Council, also wanted more information on the council’s running of the market.
This follows concerns by traders that only 30 businesses are now operating at the market, with a potential 200 stalls not let out.
He asked: “Could the portfolio holder provide a monthly breakdown of how many applications for new stalls at the Victoria Centre have been approved and rejected since May 2021?”
Cllr Linda Woodings (Lab) responded to the question. She said: “The consultation on Victoria Market is still ongoing at the moment.
“The council leases the market space in the Victoria Centre but has to provide a significant annual subsidy to keep it afloat.
“The subsidy which we pay, which is just shy of half a million per year, is no longer a viable option for this council. It is very sad because Victoria Market has been operating from that site since 1972.
“Despite our investment in previous years, it has not been performing well and is less than half occupied.
“The market was badly affected by Covid as was the whole of the retail sector and loss of footfall generally and that is despite support offered to traders by the council and government grants.
“Any final decision on the future of the market is subject to considerations of all of the views.
“If a decision is made at the end to exit from that operation, the council will offer traders a fair financial compensation package and support to identify alternative vacant units in the city or provide them support to wind up businesses early if that is their preferred option.
“We are conscious this is people’s livelihoods and we understand all change is difficult in these circumstances. We need to put traders at the heart of this decision we are making.”
People can take part in the six week consultation which was launched on Monday, April 25, before a decision is made on its future.