Fate of town’s markets under council review

Hemsworth market. Under threat due to local authority cost cutting.'h4939c115

Hemsworth market. Under threat due to local authority cost cutting.'h4939c115

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MARKETS in Hemsworth and South Elmsall could be closed down or handed to private firms and community groups if they are deemed “unsustainable”.

Wakefield Council is conducting a cost saving review of the district’s eight markets, as it tries to cut spending due to budget restraints.

Private businesses, town and parish councils and co-operatives formed by traders could run any markets that council bosses decide are not cost effective and some could be at risk of closing if nobody comes forward to take them over.

The review is looking at income generated and spending on staff and maintenance before decisions are made about the future of each market.

Ben Cook, the council’s markets service manager, discussed the review at a skills, enterprise and work overview and scrutiny committee last week.

He said: “We have situations in some market facilities where the number of traders is down and it has been down for a number of years.

“If we think they are unsustainable we may decide to cease running them as a council.”

Mr Cook said private firms would be charged fees to run markets but traders’ groups and town and parish councils would not. Wakefield Council’s cabinet will consider the results on May 31.

But traders in South Elmsall said they had received a letter from the council reassuring them that all markets were not set to close.

Martyn Venables, from Wombwell, has had a hardware stall at the market for 20 years. He said: “The rumours have been flying around for a while, but the letter is quite reassuring. We’ve had a pretty bad winter but trade is starting to pick up.”

Scott Driver, whose family has had a fruit and vegetable stall on the market for 60 years, said: “I wouldn’t have thought this market would be a risk.

“Every trade is seeing depression at the moment but this market is as good as any. I would prefer the council to run the market, as this would keep it for people rather than just running it for profit, like a private firm would.”

Lisa Dodd, Wakefield Council’s service director for sport and culture, said: “It is business as usual at all eight of Wakefield Council’s markets. Like all council services in these challenging financial times, the markets are under review but no decisions have been made about their future and consultations are ongoing as part of the review.”

Hemsworth MP Jon Trickett said: “Markets are an important part of many of the small towns and villages I represent and are enjoyed by many. I would not wish to see any of the markets close.”