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Watford Market traders: 'conned from day one'
Market traders from Watford are not all being offered stalls when the market relocates, in a move that has been described as "ripping the heart out of Watford".
Council planners signed-off plans last year to move the market to the car park of the TJ Hughes building off High Street in September. Along with moving outdoors, the market will run five days a week rather than three.
The new market will have space for around 40 permanent stalls and will be managed by Town and Country Markets.
The move has not gone down well with market traders, some of whom want to move but haven’t been given stalls.
Margaret Beresford has owned ‘Little Knits’ for seven years. The stall sells handmade children’s toys and clothing.
She said she would not be moving, and descried the move was "ripping the heart out of Watford".
The 69-year-old said: "The council is putting pounds before people, and a lot of us will be out of work.
"It is not suitable for us to move as all our stock would most likely be damp, and moving from three days to five is ridiculous.
"It’s depressing. Some of those that do want to go haven’t even been given a place. It really gets my back up.
"The money should be spent on doing this market up. Most of us cannot afford shops so we will be out of work.
"It has depressed a lot of people. You don’t want your life planned for you do you?
"We have been conned from day one. The new market will not be a market, it will be an arcade. The mayor does not know what the people of Watford want."
An indication of how the new market will look
Butcher Kathy Newton is not taking her business to the new market because of "a lack of space" there.
The 52-year-old said: "The room we have been offered is not adequate for us to work to our high standards. It is not feasible for is to make the move.
"It is a great shame. We have been here a year now and have a great set of regulars.
"Having stalls are great because people can just move on if they want. It is completely different to owning a shop.
"We are like family here, we all know each other, and it will be terribly sad to have to all split up.
"Our regulars are mortified, and have offered to help us find somewhere else."
While some traders are opposed to the move, there are others who want to move but have not been given a place yet.
Tony Pieri owns Tony’s Hairdressers, and said that because he is providing a service rather than selling products he has been refused a market stall.
The 53-year-old said: "This is my livelihood. I have been here for 15 months and have built up a great clientelle.
"I can’t afford to be in a shop. I had to build this from scratch but have been told at the moment there is not enough room for me.
"I welcome the move, I think the new market will be modern, cleaner and have more passing trade. I am all for it, I believe it will work. I think it’s a great day to have it open for five days a week, I want to be working."
Peter Nelson, Watford Borough Council spokesman, said: "The council is creating an iconic, modern market that will look and feel different to the existing market. The current market costs tax payers a lot of money, it’s been losing business and the Charter Place building it is housed in is uneconomical to maintain.
"The new market will be smaller than the existing one, and there will inevitably be disappointments, particularly when a large number of the traders applied for units. This was made clear to all traders from the start.
"The selection process for units in the new market is ongoing and is being carried out by Town & Country Markets, the proposed operator of the new market.
"No indication was given to any trader of possible success or refusal prior to the applications being considered and traders notified formally."
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