Cash for Wakefield, Pontefract, Castleford, Normanton, South Elmsall and Ossett markets 'could help high streets too'

Measures to help boost Wakefield's markets could help local high streets as well, senior councillors have said.

Tuesday, 14th January 2020, 2:44 pm
Updated Tuesday, 14th January 2020, 2:46 pm

Outdoor traders will be handed permanent stall structures which will look "more appealing", while Castleford and Pontefract's market halls will be revamped.

Stalls at Normanton and South Elmsall will be pushed closer to their respective high streets.

Cash has been released for the six markets run by Wakefield Council

Coun Darren Byford, the authority's portfolio holder for regeneration, told colleagues: "The purpose of the investment is to improve our building stock, improve the appearance and feel of the markets, with the aim of attracting new customers and traders."

Traders have taken a hit in recent years, with many blaming online retail and the connected loss of high street shops for their fortunes.

The package of measures follows an in-depth review by Wakefield Council into the district's six markets over the course of last year.

Coun Margaret Isherwood said: "It's not just the markets. This will reinvigorate our town and city centres because the high street is in decline.

In Pontefract, outdoor stalls will be replaced with more permanent structures, and its indoor market will be refurbished.

"We really need to look at new ways of approaching them. I think hopefully with this, we will start to see an improvement."

Coun Les Shaw said he believed help for Castleford Market would have a knock-on effect on footfall at nearby Carlton Lanes Shopping Centre.

Stallholders in Pontefract gave the proposed investment a cautious welcome last week, though some suggested their market's decline was irreversible and that any new cash would be a "waste".

Other traders have called for their rents to be slashed, but there is no prospect of that happening before the improvements are carried out.

Traders will be moved to the front of South Elmsall into new purpose-built stalls. The council says this could lead to it opening for six days a week, up from its current three.

Coun Matthew Morley told Cabinet he felt there was scope for markets to become more environmentally-friendly.

He said: "I was in markets for 21 years. I've seen a decline.

"But I've spoken to residents in my ward, in Stanley, who can't let a Saturday go by without a visit to Castleford Market.

"I'm pleased there's this investment in the market."

Coun Darren Byford said the investment could help draw new shoppers to markets.

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Coun Isherwood said the cash could help boost high streets.