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Market almost stalled

PUBLISHED: 16:02 29 January 2002 | UPDATED: 15:24 03 March 2010

MARKET traders were left scratching their heads today when they arrived for work to find the gates were locked.

For the first time in 18 years of being based on the Civic Centre staff car park stall holders faced the prospect of not being able to open up.

MARKET traders were left scratching their heads today when they arrived for work to find the gates were locked.

For the first time in 18 years of being based on the Civic Centre staff car park stall holders faced the prospect of not being able to open up.

Not to be put off the determined traders found an open gate further round the car park.

But barriers meant that the bemused workers had to squeeze huge lorries and vans through a narrow gap with just inches to spare to get on to the car park.

Stall holders began to arrive at the market at around 4am but it was not until four hours later that someone arrived to unlock the gates.

Mike Young, chairman of the co-operative that runs the market said: "This has never happened to us before.

"We were shocked when he got here and the gates were closed, although we did think it would be a genuine mistake."

A spokesman for Ipswich Borough Council apologised for the mix up and said that the person responsible for opening the gates the previous afternoon had simply forgotten.

He said: "We are sorry that the gates were not open but we are glad that there was no delay."

However he did mention that the market traders were given a spare key of their own.

Not being able to open today would have been another blow for the traders who revealed last week that the 800-year-old market may come to an end within weeks if they could not move sites.

Since their plight was revealed Mr Young said that support had been tremendous, although some traders are still rapidly losing customers.

Today Mr Young said: "We have felt so helpless until now.

"We are fighting the council for the people's market.

"It is not the council's market or the traders market – it belongs to the people of Ipswich."

The Civic Centre staff car park was supposed to be a temporary site for the market when it was moved from Tower Ramparts.

Traders have been in discussion with the council for the past 18 years about moving to a site with more passing trade such as the Cornhill or Carr Street.

The council wants the market traders to move to a new site which would be part of the Mint Quarter development between Carr Street or Tacket Street.

But the traders don't think that they will be around by the time the Mint Quarter is completed and fear the market will disappear within weeks unless the move is made soon.

One trader said that his takings had dropped by 50 per cent since Christmas.

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