New Recommendations For Bury Market

A new indoor hall, free parking and internet access are among the recommendations for the future of Bury Market.

The council has been asked to fund pre-development costs of around £50,000 and create a business plan for a new indoor “flexi-hall” at the market.

The new building would be used for live music, pop-up markets and other events if the plans go ahead.

But director of regeneration and economic growth Paul Lakin explained that the development, which will involve discussions with the Mill Gate Shopping Centre over land, could take years to complete.

He said: “This is the first stage of a vision which we’d like to implement at speed. But this will not happen overnight. It’s going to be a couple of years of work.

“What we are really trying to do is work a really fine balance with making the traditional market experience better.

“Something like a flexi-hall can be used to complement the market on market days, but outside of market days it could be used as a live music venue, for commercial lettings and pop-up markets such as specialist vinyl markets and craft beer, gin or other drink festivals.”

The council has also been asked to investigate options to improve internet access for traders and consider the cost of providing free Wi-Fi on the market.

Parking charges could also be cut or completely scrapped after 3pm on market days, if the recommendations are accepted.

The local authority has also been asked to review trading days with a view to make them shorter but more frequent.

The recommendations have come from a cross-party group of councillors tasked with creating a strategy for Bury Market to ensure that it remains at the heart of the town’s retail experience for the next 20 years.

Cllr Yvonne Wright, who left the task group following complaints from a trader, welcomed the progress but criticised some of the suggestions, describing the free parking offer as a “non starter”.

She said: “Because of the problems prior to the virus, it’s going to have to be really planned how we come back from this. I really hope that the council will look at it sympathetically. The traders will be starting from zero again. Things have not been going well for some time. I’m very keen to see progress.

Short term “quick wins” suggested by the group also include re-establishing a traders’ association, seeking marketing opportunities to appeal to wider audiences and creating collaborative offers across the market such as food hampers for Christmas.

A report also reveals the findings of a study contacted by Leeds University which found there were governance and management issues at the market.

In light of this, the task group have asked the cabinet to commission an independent rent review to establish whether the rates are fair.

But those working at the market are calling for an emergency rent reduction to be implemented immediately, according to handbag trader John Theaker.

He said: “Any ideas put forward for the good of the market are welcome. These will though take time to implement and we need urgent action now in the form of a serious rent reduction.

“I am aware of the current financial restraints of the council, but a short term investment now in the form of a rent cut, will pay dividends back to them in the near future.”

The recommendations were due to be discussed at a cabinet meeting on Wednesday but this has been delayed due to the coronavirus outbreak.

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