Peace in our time at market
PEACE today broke out at Ipswich market after the stallholders were given the chance to develop it over the next few years.After months of skirmishing with the borough council, the market traders' co-operative – which has been running it on a "temporary" basis for three years – were told they would be given the chance to run an expanded market in the long term.
PEACE today broke out at Ipswich market after the stallholders were given the chance to develop it over the next few years.
After months of skirmishing with the borough council, the market traders' co-operative – which has been running it on a "temporary" basis for three years – were told they would be given the chance to run an expanded market in the long term.
That should see the market expanded into neighbouring streets and lead to it becoming a major attraction for the town, rivalling similar markets which bring in shoppers to Colchester and Bury St Edmunds.
Until now the council has insisted that it would award the contract to run the market on the basis of competitive tendering with no guarantee that the existing co-operative would win.
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Now it has offered to negotiate exclusively with the traders – although it would seek certain guarantees before agreeing any deal.
The traders would also have to give a commitment to expanding the market. The expansion is currently the subject of a bill going through parliament.
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Stallholders have expressed their frustration at the council's delays in offering them a long-term agreement to run the market.
Their current lease expires at the end of August – and they say the uncertainty has put off prospective stallholders.
They have been campaigning for a decision from the council – and a petition they raised attracted thousands of signatures.
Now, however, peace has broken out.
"This is a real opportunity for the council and the market traders to work together to bring about what we all want to see – a bigger, better thriving market for Ipswich," said council leader Peter Gardiner.
Market traders' leader Mike Young today said stallholders had been encouraged by the council's response.
As an immediate response they have dismantled the stall that has been collecting signatures over recent weeks.
"We are of course thrilled that the council wish to see us running the market in the long term and feel that this will be a very constructive working relationship," he said.
Mr Young said more than 20,000 people had supported the stallholders' petition in recent weeks – and was sure that the strength of local feelings had contributed to the council's decision.
The traders were trusting that the council elections in June would not affect the council's willingness to sign the agreement.
Conservative group spokeswoman Liz Harsant said they would certainly agree to the deal if her party won power next month.
"That is excellent news – it's what we have been pressing for and we would be 100 per cent behind the agreement," she said.
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