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Markets venue sparks anger

By Leek Post and Times  |  Posted: December 05, 2013

By Leslie Jackson

Stalls on the cobbled area of Leek Market Place

Stalls on the cobbled area of Leek Market Place

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LEEK councillors have reacted with anger over a decision to use the town's historic Market Place as a car park on Wednesdays.

Staffordshire Moorlands District Council has decided that the stalls for Wednesday markets will remain on the public realm area at the bottom of Derby Street, following a trial period.

Stalls will also be erected down the street at the top end of Derby Street on its pedestrian area.

Cars will then be allowed to park on the cobbled area which has been the venue for the Wednesday market for hundreds of years.

A container will be situated on Silk Street car park to store the new pop-up stalls which will save transport costs.

The future of the Wednesday market venue was discussed behind closed doors last week when the public and press were asked to leave.

The Post & Times challenged the decision on the grounds of public interest and that it was not commercially sensitive.

But at the council's service delivery overview and scrutiny panel meeting chairman Neal Podmore and vice-chairman Brian Johnson said they were taking officers' advice and debating the issue in secret.

Councillor Edwin Wain, who has the responsibility for planning and markets on the authority, said this week: "The stalls will be staying at the bottom of Derby Street and will also be erected in the near future on the pedestrian area at the top of Derby Street.

"Cars will then be allowed back on the cobbled part of Market Place on Wednesdays.

"This will bring in customers to help the outside markets, Butter Market and Trestle Market.

"A container will be placed on the Silk Street car park which will save £12,000 on transport costs. Doing nothing for the markets is not an option."

When the market was first moved onto the public realm area last year, cars were allowed to park on Market Place.

However, cars were stopped from parking there six months ago after a market working group felt it was inappropriate.

Leek councillor Barry Cowie said: "I am furious how the council is running the outdoor market.

" It seems they do not know how to run it and it should be turned over to the people who run the successful private Saturday stalls and to Totally Locally who run successful Sunday events. Cars are going back on the cobbles which is Leek's historical Market Place."

Another Leek councillor, Pam Wood, said : "I am very angry that the district council takes no notice of the people of Leek. They have even ignored their own consultation.

"They are taking away the history from Leek, which has always had its market on the cobbled Market Place.

"The district council is officer led, which is not democratic."

Leek North district councillor and Leek South county councillor, Charlotte Atkins, also pleaded at the meeting for the council to take the section regarding the market changes out of confidential.However, her request was refused.

Ms Atkins said this week: "The district council has ignored public consultation and has destroyed the market.

"I have supported, through the county council, new brown signs to be erected advertising Leek as a historical market town, but now we will have no stalls on the historical market site. This is ridiculous."

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