Traders on Clitheroe Market say they have been “left in limbo” following the announcement that the council is taking a breather on the proposed £9m redevelopment of the site.
Kath Pritchard and Julie Coy, who run Blueberries cafe, said they have been unable to plan for the future since the market redevelopment proposal was first mooted, and now that the plans have been halted, this uncertainty is set to continue for months or even years to come.
“It’s totally unacceptable that we are faced with the prospect of another three years in limbo,” said Kath.
She added that they were reluctant to invest in the business until they know what is happening regarding the market redevelopment scheme.
Clitheroe Market trader Jane Baron, of Just Sew furnishings and textiles, who is secretary of Clitheroe Market Traders Steering Group, said it was imperative that the council does not let the site fall into a state of rack and ruin now the market redevelopment scheme has been put on hold.
“The only time that work is carried out on the market is before a major event like the food festival,” said Jane. “The toilets of the market are a disgrace and we need to have an urgent meeting with the council to ensure that the site is maintained.”
Welcoming the council’s admission that a fresh look needs to be taken at the market redevelopment proposals, David Metcalfe, who is chairman of Clitheroe Market Traders Steering Group, said that the council now needs to go back to the drawing board and put the right infrastructure in place before any work is carried out to redevelop the historical market site.
“We’ve gone through all this before of being told what’s happening,” he said.
“But do the powers that be not think it’s better to ask people what they want rather than tell them what they are getting?”
Mr Metcalfe added: “The town is gridlocked with all this house building going on so how they think they’re going to the start work on a major development in the town centre is beyond me. The issue of parking has also not been addressed.”
RVBC officers have been tasked with producing a new report advising on the best way forward with the market redevelopment plan.
However, no time scale has been given indicating how long this will take and when the matter will be brought back to committee.
Acknowledging the concerns of market traders, the leader of Ribble Valley Borough Council Ken Hind said: “I deeply regret personally that it has taken so long.
“We are still seriously committed to doing something about the market and the centre of town. It has not been forgotten.”
Coun. Hind added that he would be visiting the market today and talking to traders.