IMMEDIATE action has been demanded after major safety concerns were raised over the erection of stalls in a new town centre location.
New pop-up stalls for Leek's Wednesday market, pictured, have been erected on the town’s new public realm area, known as Sparrow Park, at the bottom end of Derby Street.
Now calls have been made to move the market back to its original position, in Market Place, unless safety fears created by cars can be addressed.
It has emerged that talks are on-going to look at closing Derby Street from the entrance of the Haywood Street junction to the Bath Street entrance, which forms part of the new public realm area, to vehicles between the hours of 10am and 4pm on Wednesdays.
At a meeting of Staffordshire Moorlands District Council’s service delivery overview and scrutiny panel, Barry Cowie, chairman of the council’s markets working group, set up to look at the future of facilities in Leek, Cheadle and Biddulph, said: “Members of the group have concerns about cars and vans being served through the windows from the stalls in Sparrow Park.” Councillor Linda Malyon said: “There are several issues with the location of the new stalls.
“There are vehicles coming out of Bath Street who can’t see traffic coming up Derby Street.
“There are tyre tread marks on the pavements; this is how close vehicles are coming to pedestrians.
“Immediate action to move the market back to the previous location is required before someone gets hurt. This safety issue has to be sorted out.” The stalls were set up in the additional location for a trial period between January and May this year, as part of Leek’s main market.
Councillor Peter Elkin said: “Leek is an 800-year-old historical market, traditionally in the Market Square.
“It is now split in half. There are concerns over safety in the location.” Councillor Edwin Wain, who has the responsibility for planning and markets on the council, said the changes had been made in an effort to help both shop and market traders.
He said: “We had six months of road works and both shop and market traders were suffering. I agreed to move some of the stalls to Sparrow Park.
“There were no strong-arm tactics; it was just for those who wanted to try the location.
“We started with six stalls and now demand is exceeding supply. Some stallholders have doubled their takings, while some have trebled them.
“There has been some concern over safety and we are looking at a road closure at the bottom part of Derby Street between the hours of 10am and 4pm.
“The new pop-up stalls have cost almost £900 each, and have been purchased with £25,000 of the £100,000 received from the Mary Portas High Street initiative fund, and can be used by town and parishes across the Moorlands.” Leek councillor Charlotte Atkins said the prime concern of stallholders in Sparrow Park was safety.
She said: “Traffic coming out of Bath Street can't see cars coming up the Derby Street section. I also understand that two long-serving stallholders left shortly after the trial move was started.” It was agreed that Mr Wain will report back to the committee’s next meeting with an update on the safety issues and the proposed road closure.