Crawley stall-holders disheartened as market row drags on and on

jpco-26-2-14 Crawley Market in High Street might close (Pic by Jon Rigby)
jpco-26-2-14 Crawley Market in High Street might close (Pic by Jon Rigby)

Traders were left disheartened after a debate over the future of Crawley market failed to reach a conclusion.

Stall holders have been calling on Crawley Borough Council to move the market permanently into Queens Square, claiming a lack of footfall in the High Street would see them go out of business.

At a meeting of the full council, stall holder Sandy Turner acted as spokesman for the traders, explaining why they felt the market had to be relocated and citing a petition of almost 6,000 signatures supporting a move.

Calling on the council to spend some of the £1.5million it recently pledged to improvements in Queens Square on semi-permanent stalls, she added: “The market needs the right location to succeed. The High Street is no longer the right location. There is not the footfall there. These traders feel they have played a large part in Crawley’s past and would like to be part of its future.”

Her words were supported by members of the town’s Labour group but members of the Conservative group warned against a “knee-jerk reaction” when it came to reorganising.

Addressing members of the cabinet, Cllr Chris Mullins (Gossops Green) said: “What the market people are telling you very clearly is the only days they are making any income is when they are in Queens Square.

“The High Street has very little retail units in it. How do you make a market work when people don’t go there?

“It’s an evening venue and doesn’t suit the concept of a market.”

Cllr Duncan Crow (Con, Furnace Green) warned against members being asked to make policy “on the hoof”.

He added: “We hear a lot of speeches and a lot of noise but what I fail to see is an in-depth report and study that inform us what are the best options going forward.”

Members agreed a full report into the arguments for and against the relocation of the market needed to be undertaken.

The matter would then go before the Overview and Scrutiny Commission who would pass their recommendations onto the Cabinet.