Market tops political agenda

IPSWICH market's future came under the spotlight as candidates continued to battle for votes in the town.A meeting between traders and the borough council yesterday failed to resolve problems over the future of the Cornhill market.

IPSWICH market's future came under the spotlight as candidates continued to battle for votes in the town.

A meeting between traders and the borough council yesterday failed to resolve problems over the future of the Cornhill market.

Traders now believe that their attempts to get a five-year licence to run the market are being sabotaged by council officers - although councillors themselves are broadly in favour of their case.

Labour's Chris Mole pledged to host another meeting to bring all sides together - if he is re-elected on May 5.

He said: “It was agreed back in the middle of last year that the traders' co-operative would have the exclusive right to bid for the market.

“Since the new administration took over at the council in September, however, it seems that nothing has happened.

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“Now the traders have been told it will go to open tendering. There seems to have been a breakdown in communication, and I think it's important for all sides to sit down around the table and sort something out.”

The Conservative and Liberal Democrat candidates in the election - Paul West and Richard Atkins - are both members of the borough council executive which voted to open the bidding to other market operators.

Mr West said: “After having a meeting with Mike Young, I think he and the traders are asking fair questions about the way the council negotiated with them exclusively.

“I think it would be right for the council to have another look at the way the issue was dealt with over the last few months.”

Mr Atkins said the traders had had at least two opportunities to seek advice from council officers before they submitted their bid to take over the market at the end of last year.

“They did not take up those opportunities, and we made it clear that once a bid was submitted we would not - could not - haggle over it.

“The traders now have another opportunity to make a bid and we have given them ever assitance - there will be another meeting between their representatives and our representatives to go through what will happen.

“But we are now in a position that if someone else does bid for the market they could insist on the same disclosures we have given to the traders - otherwise we could be accused of favouring them too much,” he said.

Mr Young said yesterday's meeting had been frustrating because council officers still would not negotiate about the market as far as they were concerned.

“What they do is ask us to put in a price and then say yes or no to it. If they say no, then that's that.

“There is no discussion about what they are looking for - that's what most people understand negotiation to be.”

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