Fears for market's future over gazebo swap plan

Hundreds of residents have signed a petition calling on the council to reverse a decision to replace containers with gazebos at a market.
Coun Steve Jones outside Ashton MarketCoun Steve Jones outside Ashton Market
Coun Steve Jones outside Ashton Market

A petition set up by Bryn independent representative Coun Steve Jones not to immediately scrap the old shipping-style units at Ashton Market has attracted around 700 signatures.

The campaigners want the town hall to retain enough containers for the existing traders who want them or to purchase new similar units for them.

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Coun Jones says he is concerned some of the stallholders will not be able to conduct their business from gazebos and said an exodus from the site is already under way.

He said: "Within a week of starting the petition I had 450 signatures on paper and another 200 online, which I think shows the support the traders have from the local community.

"Traders are now moving so if they take these containers away there is going to be no market in Ashton, which will be disastrous. Some of them have been there for 40 years and if they are already going elsewhere who are Wigan Council going to get as new people with the gazebos?

"We also want the council to come down to the market to meet us and hear our side.

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"I do understand the argument that the containers are not in the greatest condition and they are a bit of an eyesore but they have been in Ashton for so long we should get some new ones to let the traders carry on."

Emma Barton, council assistant director of economy, said: "We are committed to ensuring our markets are vibrant for both traders and customers and are always looking at opportunities to improve.

"The introduction of gazebos will provide a much more fluid shopping environment, will help reduce litter and anti-social behaviour and will relieve parking on non-market days. We will liaise directly with traders, giving them sufficient notice of when the works will commence. We will continue to provide support and reassurance to traders so they can comfortably adapt to these new changes as we understand there will be different operation requirements.

"Traders who would prefer a permanent unit or trading location in the town centre are welcome to apply for our Business Booster fund, which in exchange for signing up to The Deal for Business, small businesses or new start-up businesses can apply for funding to help establish themselves in the town centre.

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"We are hopeful that this new arrangement will attract new traders to the market."