Uncertain future for towns’ markets

Market Place, Pontefract
Market Place, Pontefract
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MARKETS in Pontefract, Castleford and Featherstone face an uncertain future as council bosses consider ways to cut costs in a review of all the district’s markets.

Government budget cuts have meant Wakefield Council has slashed funding for markets by £50,000 and is now conducting a cost-saving review which could result in some markets being handed over to private firms or possibly closed if council bosses decide they are not cost effective.

Ben Cook, council markets service manager, told the council’s skills, enterprise and work overview and scrutiny committee last week: “We are reviewing the sustainability of each of our market facilities.

“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 where traders’ groups and town and parish councils would not. The result of the review will be considered by the council’s cabinet on May 31.

Lisa Dodd, the 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.”

When asked to confirm if the closure of markets was an option being considered in the review, a council spokeswoman said: “The council wants to see all its markets open and thriving.

“All options are being considered in the review but no decisions have been made.”