Market traders agree to new future with council

Wigan Market
Wigan Market

The borough’s markets will remain under the control of the council after traders rejected alternative ways of running them in a review.

The consultation exercise among stallholders at the borough’s indoor and outdoor markets found overwhelming support for keeping the facilities in the hands of the town hall.

The local authority had asked traders if they would prefer to consider other models including bringing in a private company or getting stallholders to form an organisation to run the venues themselves.

Both traders’ representatives and council leaders are now looking forward to a bright future for the traditional shopping facilities, which have faced an increasingly tough market with the rise of out-of-town retail parks and online commerce.

Following the consultation it is now being stressed that Wigan Market especially is remaining open for business and plans are being put in place to ensure it will thrive.

However, the consultation also suggests that things will not be remaining exactly as they currently are, with traders wanting a new approach based on The Deal.

This is expected to mean more conversations and working together on issues such as affordable rents and ensuring traders pay on time, stalls being open for regular hours and market buildings being maintained.

Traders also want the local authority to work with them on supporting local communities more.

Wigan Council has reiterated its commitment to the markets and is challenging the borough’s residents to use and support them.

Karl Battersby, Wigan Council’s director for economy and environment, said: “We are pleased to have concluded the markets review with the outcome being the retention of the borough’s markets under council management.

“This was a useful exercise and captured the strength of support from traders for the markets to remain under council management.

“We are committed to ensuring the markets remain open and viable which is why it is crucial that local people shop local and support their local market.

“We know the markets will continue to face significant challenges from changing consumer habits so we will need to work with traders to be radical in our approach for the future and attract new customers in the years ahead.

“We also aim to form a partnership approach with traders along the principles of The Deal which will see both the council and traders contributing to a successful future.”

Major changes are afoot at Wigan Market as the new Armed Forces Hub is being incorporated into the hall.

A regional first, the facility will offer specialist support to current and former personnel and their families and the traders say they are excited about the possibilities of the move.

Mike O’Connor, traders’ representative at Wigan Market, said: “The traders at Wigan are happy to stay under the council’s umbrella at this moment in time.

“We also want to play our part in helping the market to thrive in the future and look forward to the Armed Forces Hub opening.

“It’s also important to make our customers aware that the market is not closing and is not moving location in the near future. We are constantly being told by our customers that they think the market is closing but the message is that Wigan Market is open now and for the future.”

Wigan Council operates two indoor markets in Wigan and Leigh and six outdoor markets in Wigan, Leigh, Ashton, Tyldesley, Hindley and Atherton.

The news of the facilities remaining under council management was particularly welcome in Leigh, where the Gas Street building has proved an enduring hit with shoppers.

Glenn Furnival, Leigh Market traders’ representative, said: “The Leigh traders are happy to be staying under council management.

“Leigh Market is a popular and thriving market with a great deal of potential to grow its popularity even more.

“We look forward to working with the council to improve and promote the market further.”