By Matt Jarram, Local Democracy Reporter
Traders say they want a ‘clear answer’ from Nottingham City Council over the uncertain future of the city’s historic Victoria Centre Market after the authority said it could no longer afford to subsidise it.
The council holds the lease for the market and is in ongoing talks with the asset managers of the site, Global Mutual, which took over when shopping centre giant intu went bust in 2020.
The council says it has been running the market at an annual trading loss since 2014, having to subsidise the costs to the tune of more than £1.5m.
The Labour authority, which needs to make £38m of savings over the next four years, says it can no longer continue with the subsidy.
Victoria Centre Market, on the top floor of the Victoria Centre, dates back to 1972.
It has the capacity for around 200 traders, but currently only has 31, including fruit and vegetable stallholders, book traders, hairdressers and cafes.
Some business owners say they worry the market could close and feel let down by the council because it has not given them any assurance about its future.
John Easom, owner of gold dealers, Gold Bank, which has been in the market for six years, said: “We don’t know anything, which is the problem. The council will not even answer phone calls.
“We have got people queuing up to have stalls in here – people are walking around thinking the market is on its knees, and it is not.
“Closing it would mean 31 businesses employing staff would not be able to pay their mortgages which is appalling.”
Kaiwan Ali, from phone accessory store, Funky Fones, which has been in the market since the 1990s, is calling for “a clear answer” from the council on the market’s future.
He said: “I remember 20 years ago this place used to be busy with lots of shops open. It has been completely ignored by the council. It is two different worlds – the way the market looks compared to the shopping centre.”
Abigail Seguwaa, owner of leather bag and shoe shop, Italian Shop Ltd, has been in the market for six years. “The rent is too high,” she added.
“People see the market empty and do not want to come in. If they want the market to improve, the council need to reduce rents, so more traders come in.
“This is the only market in the city, so they need to help us to grow.”
Tony Meakin, who runs a book stall with his wife, Mary, said his wife’s dad, DP Storey, set up the business in 1972 when the market first opened.
“All the council keep saying is ‘we will get back to you’. It is not fair on traders. The rent is killing us. It is not covering the overheads, but the government grants have kept us afloat.
“A lot of people who use this market are people who live on their own.”
Keith Yeoman, 75, who has come to the market every day for years, said: “It is a friendly atmosphere. I have a cup of tea and wander around. People are very friendly.”
Marlene Shepherd, 80, from West Bridgford, said: “We would be devastated if it closed. We have been coming here for years. Where would we go?”
Julie D-Ray, 58, from West Bridgford, added: “It is a community here – we come here for our fruit and veg and flowers and the cafes. We would be gutted.”
A Nottingham City Council spokesman said: “The council is currently in ongoing discussions with the asset managers of the Victoria Centre, Global Mutual, about Victoria Market which we have responsibility for.
“Whilst these discussions must remain confidential for commercial reasons, the council is absolutely committed that our stallholders would be the first to hear about any future proposals we may put forward.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has had a major impact on the market. In recognition of this, the council has continued to provide significant extra support to traders through rent reductions between April and December 2020 and additional grant funding.”