By Joe Locker, Local Democracy Reporter
The long wait for a final decision on the future of the Victoria Centre Market has been called a ‘farce’ by one trader after Nottingham City Council missed a May date set to resolve the situation.
Traders working in the indoor market have now been waiting for more than 20 months since the Labour-run council first said it was planning to end the market’s lease.
The closure has been planned as part of a range of cuts and efficiencies to aid the council’s struggling finances.
Closing the market is expected to save the authority £39m over 50 years.
The council says it has been running the market at an annual trading loss since 2014, and has been subsidising it at a cost of more than £1.5m.
A final decision on the market was expected by the end of May, but this has again been pushed back.
At the beginning of the month, council leader Cllr David Mellen (Lab), told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “We want to resolve it as soon as we can.
“We have put a date of the end of May as an effort to try and do that.”
While the council says progress is being made, on Thursday (June 1) a spokesman said there will now be no changes until the end of June at the earliest.
“We have contacted traders as promised to keep them updated about the future of the market,” the spokesman said.
“However, there will be no changes until at least the end of June 2023.
“We do understand the ongoing uncertainty is frustrating and we plan to meet traders face-to-face to discuss matters on June 15th.”
The council says it has been talking with traders and the centre’s asset managers, Global Mutual, which took over following the collapse of former owners intu in 2020.
The market opened in the shopping centre upon its completion in 1972 and was once home to more than 200 stalls.
Today just 26 traders remain, after four more shut up shop in recent weeks amid the ongoing uncertainty.
Some traders have been complaining about a lack of transparency and communication from the council.
A compensation package was initially offered to traders, before they were informed the planned early lease surrender set for February was no longer being processed.
They say the uncertainty has cost some of them thousands of pounds in fees for solicitors so far.
It is understood the authority’s officers have been weighing up the costs of ending the lease and providing compensation, compared with keeping the market open.
Nick Clark, of Cobblers and Keys, said: “We are suffering with stress and nerves. It is terrible how they have treated us. It is a farce.
“We are at the end of our tether. We might have to end up shutting down.”
A spokesman for Victoria Centre added: “The market is run and operated by Nottingham City Council and they have been – and remain – fully responsible for all decisions regarding its future.
“We are continuing to seek greater clarity from Nottingham City Council on their long-term position regarding the continued operation of the market and the financial investment that it requires from them.”