Traders at St Johns Market being starved into submission

The interior of St John’s Market was created without talking to users or traders in the old market by a designer with no experience of markets. It was a shambolic change from a place with character to one that looked like something connected with a hospital

My Lib Dem colleague Cllr Kris Brown has accused Liverpool Council of trying to “starve St John’s Market Traders into submission”. The Traders have been unable to trade at all since March although they legally could have opened at the start of July and Mayor Anderson, who took personal charge of sorting this out in 2018, has failed to deliver the changes that would bring more people to the market

Cllr Brown has asked a detailed series of questions to the Council as part of his efforts to show that the Council firstly made an absolute mess of the plans to improve the market 4 years ago and since then has continually failed to right the wrongs of its botched scheme

Cllr Brown said, “This project was a mess from start to finish. It was undertaken with no consultation with traders for shoppers by an architect with no experience of market design. So from day one it has been a shell of an enterprise with none of the warmth and vitality that is required of a successful market.

It was obvious within months that the market was not working, in part because of its poor design and in part because no real purpose had been given to the market in an online age. With shops like Pound shops and similar just being cheap isn’t enough. Thought needed to be given about the niche markets products and services that would bring people in. Having said that the traders that are in the Market are providing good products and services at a good price. It’s just that there are too few people around to sell them to.

In the Spring of 2018 Mayor Anderson met traders and promised that he would take personal charge of getting things right. But nothing has really happened since that time and the Council has been unable to collect any rents or service charge since then.

The Council has failed to deliver the footfall that is needed for the traders to make a living from it. That is why we have repeatedly been told by the Council that discussions were under way to sell off the council’s interest in the area but that they would safeguard existing traders. It thought that by destroying the new unused market stalls on the first floor of the market and bringing in the One Stop Shop formerly in the Municipal Buildings new people would be brought to the market. To a limited extent it did but most of those people were not shoppers.

The Council has been saying for more than a year that it had people interested in commercially taking over the Market but nothing has happened and it seems unlikely that there will be retail interest post-Covid. We have suggested that the council should look at alternative sites including creating a semi-permanent market in the soulless space between Clayton Square and the Market where the big TV screen used to be. That would do two things. Firstly, it would put the marketeers into a place which was much more visible and secondly would re-energise that part of the City Centre which can be quite desolate on a cold and rainy December day!

I strongly suspect that the Council is now trying to charge rents which will force traders to close up so that the Council will not need to pay compensation if they officially closed the market.

You’d think that in the 812 years since 1208 when we were given the Markets Charter by the King the Council might have learned how to run a market properly!”

I’ve asked Brown to let me have the answers he gets so that we can share in detail yet another example of hard-earned taxpayers’ cash being squandered by our Labour rulers.

Questions from Cllr Kris Brown regarding St Johns Market

When was St Johns Market officially reopened by Sir Ken Dodd and Cllr Malcolm Kennedy?

Since that time how much:

  • Service charge has been collected?
  • Rent has been collected?
  • has been spent on running the market?
  • been repaid on the capital borrowing
  • has been spent on improvements
  • how much of the original capital works to create the new market were written off when the oen stiop shop was moved in?

What was the average daily footfall prior to the original closure of the Market?

What was the average daily footfall in the week before lockdown?

Council officers have been saying for the past 18 months that they are in discussions with a potential purchaser of the market are those discussions still in hand?

What options have been looked at with a view to relocating the market function?

Have these been discussed with the Market Traders Committee?

When was the last meeting with the Traders Committee?

Can minutes of the meeting be made available?

About richardkemp

Leader of the Liberal Democrats in Liverpool. Deputy Chair and Lib Dem Spokesperson on the LGA Community Wellbeing Board. Married to the lovely Cllr Erica Kemp CBE with three children and four grandchildren.
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1 Response to Traders at St Johns Market being starved into submission

  1. Henry Penshaw says:

    It looks the ideal set-up and space for hosting the likes of a zip wire reception centre, and associated leisure type boozeries, Richard.

    Quelle coincidence! The “council” (can one man be called a council?) have decided that the previous and commercially illogical part of their zip-wire plan (the reception centre at the end rather than the start of the zip) is to change. Apparently, this is to appease “feedback”.

    The zip wire has been years in the making, as has this. Has the closure or relocation of Radio City?

    It would be hard to support calls for serious government investment in Liverpool, such as HS2, etc, when it looks like anything good is asset stripped internally for the benefit of so few, to the long term detriment of the city. I say “would be”, because I have seen no serious efforts on the part of the council to attract serious investment. I could forgive people for thinking they have actually wanted to suppress land values.

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