By Matt Jarram, Local Democracy Reporter
Nottingham City Council is likely to close the historic Victoria Centre Market, despite a public consultation calling for it to remain open.
Market traders, who have just celebrated the site’s 50th anniversary, feel their views have not been taken into account.
The Labour-run authority 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 council £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.
The six-week consultation between April and June this year was carried out online and through meetings with the public and traders, generating 630 responses.
Findings show that most respondents (143) supported the council continuing to run the market, as well as to subsidise and invest in it (88).
The next most popular option (85) was to establish a council-run market at an alternative location, while 53 agreed with the council’s proposals.
Following a review of the options, the council said on Tuesday, August 9, officers are likely to recommend the council ends its lease and operation of the Victoria Market.
Nick Clark, the owner of Cobblers and Keys, which has been in the market for 40 years, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “It is just sad. I would like to carry my business on and still make a living. I am 53 and I can’t retire.
“The fight for me was six years ago when the market was 75 per cent full. It had pet shops, bag shops and stores that sold flowers. Covid did not help and speeded things up.
“We have got a good little business here and we have been on this market, this business, for 40 years. We will have to relocate. It is onwards and upwards.”
Kaiwan Ali, manager of phone store, Funky Fones, which has been in the market since 2016, said: “It has been here for a long time and other cities have markets.
“I think we knew it was going to close. There was no point of the consultation. Consultations are there for a reason and if you don’t listen to them what is the point of having one? I feel sorry for the elderly generation because this is their hub.”
Vivian David, who owns handbag, clothes and make-up store Vivi Collection, is also saddened by the decision.
“Some of the people that use this market will have nowhere to go,” she said.
“If the council shut it down they are putting the older people back into lockdown. It will be very difficult to move my business. We don’t have a local market like this so they need to keep it in Nottingham.”
One of the biggest campaigners to keep the market open is Stephen Taylor, from hardware store Aladdin’s Cave.
He said: “We have handed over a 7,000-signature petition (against the closure) and it is still sat on David Mellen (leader of the council’s) desk. I am planning on meeting with him on Saturday.
“Closing it will mean unemployment for 80 people and losing 30 businesses. It was the 50th anniversary of the market a fortnight ago.”
Acting Lead Councillor for Markets, Cllr Linda Woodings (Lab), said: “Our proposal to end the lease would save estimated running costs of £39m over the remaining 50 years of the current agreement, helping us to meet our duty to deliver value for money for local taxpayers.
“As expected, feedback from the consultation showed there is a great deal of affection for the market, with many respondents wanting the council to continue the market’s operation and subsidy and to carry out further investment.
“We have considered the feedback from the public, traders and the landlord. Following a review of the options in light of the consultee responses, the council’s officers are likely to recommend the council ends its lease and operation of the Victoria Market.
“We understand this would be a huge disappointment not only for customers and the wider public, but especially for traders at the market.
“We will now embark on further engagement with all traders and the landlord, before a final recommendation is made to councillors for a decision.”