Stall owner claims traders were misled over Market Place move
- Credit: James Weeds
A trader on Great Yarmouth Market Place say he feels misled about the cost of moving to a new multi-million pound site currently in development, after a video emerged showing the former leader of the borough council promising "nobody's going to lose their stall".
In the video from a Great Yarmouth Mercury article in September 2018, Graham Plant, leader of Great Yarmouth Borough Council (GYBC) at the time, said: "We've made no decisions, we've made no plans... nobody's going to lose their stall or their job or their livelihood."
Robin Platten, owner of Brewer's Chip Saloon - which has been on the market since 1902 - said: “If you watch the video, that will give you an insight into what we were expecting."
Mr Platten said when Great Yarmouth Borough Council (GYBC) announced its intention to renovate the market, it claimed it would be done so without any inconvenience to traders.
But he says he now faces having to pay up to £40,000 to make the move, which he says he cannot afford.
"The council have gone back on everything. Nothing they said has come true," Mr Platten said.
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A Great Yarmouth Borough Council spokesman responded: "The scheme for the Market Place redevelopment has changed significantly since 2018.
"Individual interviews with the market traders have been undertaken to identify their individual requirements, a presentation of the new proposals followed by additional individual consultations and design development of stalls, the scheme was amended to try and accommodate as many requests as possible from traders to make the move for traders as straightforward as possible into the new market.
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“The ambition has always been to take the traders with us on this exciting journey of the regeneration of the town’s Market Place, which is why we are offering traders an interest-free loan to help spread out the initial costs of any equipment traders may purchase to help facilitate the move."
Mr Plant was contacted for comment but has not responded.
Mr Platten stated that he was willing to pay £4,000 to move his frying range from his current stall to the new units - but has been told he's not allowed.
Mr Platten said when the council revealed its plans for the new market, he liked the looked of it.
"I will put my hands up. I was excited about it all," Mr Platten said.
“But all of a sudden, the council told us what we’ve got to pay.
“I’m looking at an investment of £35,000 to £40,000 for a three-pan range.
“The last nail in my coffin was when the council said I can’t take my current fryers."
Jerene Irwin, architect at Chaplin Farrant, said the design was not only "significant" for the town, but would “retain community amenities”.
The new wood and steel structure will be slightly north of the current six-day market's position and home to 30 stall holders.
Each stall will have its own steel canopy for shelter and security and overall the building will be higher.
However, at the beginning of July, Philip Blake, owner of H Blake Butchers, said: "The stalls aren't up to what we need, and we have to buy all the [things] we had before."
Mr Blake says he will have to pay around £30,000 for fridges to fit the new unit.
Sweet shop stall owner Yasmin Harwood said she was “all for an uplift”.
“The marketplace needs tidying ASAP,” she said. “I’ve been here nine years, and a revamp has been needed for about as long.
“Too much trade is being lost to Gapton. The way I see it there are two options: You move and keep up with the times, or you stay where you are and stop complaining.”
Jane Beck, head of property and asset management at GYBC, said: "It's not a fair playing field, as for every trader, the cost of moving is different."
What is happening with the Market Place redevelopment?
Great Yarmouth's Market Place revamp has a total of £4.6m worth of funding from benefactors including the Future High Streets Fund.
Plans for an up-to-date market were originally discussed in 2018.
The redevelopment began in April, with council leader Carl Smith and leader of the opposition group, Trevor Wainwright, saying: "The council's significant investment to improve the Market Place is a key part of our vision to revitalise and regenerate the town centre."
The redevelopment is due to be completed by April 2022.