Council and market traders clash over Wigan town centre masterplan
The local authority has responded after stallholders and politicians criticised its ambitious scheme for The Galleries retail hub.
Representatives from the town hall and developers behind the £130m transformation of The Galleries Shopping Centre held an event for stallholders on Friday.
Following the meeting traders and opposition politicians expressed disappointment and concern about several aspects of the plan, including sharing fears that the market would be downsized leaving some traders having to seek stalls elsewhere.
The town hall has also firmly responded to criticism about the perceived level of demand for some of the facilities that are being suggested for the new-look complex.
Traders said they could not see how the proposals would accommodate all the existing stallholders.
They also expressed dismay that the proposals do not include a permanent outdoor market.
Jonathan Lamb, a spokesperson for the traders, said: “It is disappointing. Everybody was upset and angry about it.
“Some of the outdoor traders have been there 20 or 30 years. The council seems happy to let that go.
"At the end of the day nobody really wants to move out of here.
“Getting the public behind it would be a great idea but the council seems to plough on with what they think is best.”
However, the town hall said market stalls were a key part of the plans and the hall would be one of the first aspects of the revamp completed.
The local authority also said its development partners Cityheart and BCEGI had researched the potential impact of a cinema in the proposals and come to positive conclusions after Coun Paul Maiden, independent representative for Hindley Green ward, cast serious doubt on the viability of the idea.
Coun Maiden also criticised the lack of a permanent outdoor market in the revamp.
He said: “A cinema is not going to drive the economy because people binge watch and watch Netflix. When I go to the cinema on Saturdays I’m often the only one in there.
“They were struggling before Covid and we’re spending taxpayers’ money on a new one. The plans are just too wishy-washy.
“I also find it sad and unacceptable there will be no outdoor market.”
Becca Heron, director of economy and skills at Wigan Council, said: “In line with our commitment to keeping staff, retailers and traders informed about or future plans for The Galleries, we held meetings to give them all the opportunity to meet with the developer and ask any questions.
“These were the first of a number of sessions that we intend to hold over the coming months and we are also in the process of speaking to each business owner individually to fully understand their requirements moving forward.
“We realise that this project brings a level of uncertainty, particularly after a challenging year, however, we will continue to engage and listen throughout this process in order to support our local businesses.
“We all recognise that doing nothing is not an option if we are to see a sustainable future for Wigan town centre and we want to bring traders and retailers with us on this journey.
“There will be ample space throughout the complex to find suitable alternative options should all traders (indoor or outdoor) and retailers wish to join the new development.
“The market is a key component of this exciting new scheme and to reflect that, we’ve prioritised this element to ensure it will be completed as part of the first phase.”
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