Armed forces hub set for market hall

A section of the Market Hall in Wigan will become an Armed Forces Hub
A section of the Market Hall in Wigan will become an Armed Forces Hub

Wigan borough’s much-anticipated armed forces hub will be housed in the town centre’s Market Hall, council bosses have revealed.

Trencherfield Mill had originally been earmarked for the project but the town hall had been forced into a re-think earlier this year.

Traders will be moved to one side of the hall to accommodate the hub which will also provide a new home for Wigan Sea Cadets.

Deputy leader Coun David Molyneux said the location will bring “a new lease of life” for the market and building works will start later in

2017.

Wigan’s market trader spokesman, Mike O’Connor, said “We think that this will be a good move as it will hopefully increase footfall and the compression of stalls will give a thriving feel.

“We appreciate the great job that armed forces individuals do and we will welcome the facility in order to do the best by them, the market and for Wigan.”

The facility - called the 4 Our Forces hub - will provide advice on housing, education and employment for the armed forces community.

When the pioneering plans were first unveiled in 2015, the town hall pledged £500k for the project along with £100k in additional funding made available from the Ministry of Defence.

The council said it will stand by this funding pledge and extra cash will be provided from the sale of the current home of Wigan Sea Cadets on Brookhouse Terrace.

The MOD will also provide £300k towards the “cost of partners and services already working with the armed forces community”, the council added.

Coun Molyneux said: “4 Our Forces will be a fantastic resource for Wigan and there will be services benefitting everybody, not just the local armed forces community.

“Although predominantly a resource for these residents to find specialised help, 4 Our Forces will also be a more central location for the Wigan Sea Cadets to train and there will be a café for the public to enjoy.

“It’s extremely important that we stress to residents that trade will not be reduced but some traders will instead be re-located to new

stalls.

“Re-positioning stalls in this way and keeping the facility open-plan will also give the market hall a new lease of life and will feel much more inviting.”

The revamp of the hall brings to an end years of speculation about the future of the town’s indoor market after plans to move traders into a new facility as part of a multi-million pound revamp of The Galleries fell through.

Norman Almond, chairman of Wigan Sea Cadets, said: “Our current base is no longer fit for purpose, so we are very excited to re-locate to the market

hall.

“It’s hugely important for the armed forces community, cadets and shoppers to engage in order to raise local pride for the armed forces and to display support.

“We’re looking forward to working with Wigan Council on making this long discussed concept a reality, while at the same time, giving back to the local community and injecting a new lease of life into our much loved market.”