TRADERS have spoken out against multi-million pound plans for Wrexham’s three historic town centre markets.
A £3 million revamp, which would have seen radical changes to the People’s Market, the Butchers Market and the General Market in Wrexham town centre, has been recommended to be thrown out.
Instead, traders and council markets supremo Amanda Davies vouched for a continuation of the progress made by the “slow investment strategy” which has seen an upturn in trade since Mrs Davies turned her attention to the markets in September.
“We’ll turn these markets around even if it kills us,” she told a a meeting of Wrexham Council’s employment, business and investment scrutiny committee.
“Don’t look back, let’s look to the future.
“We need to work on improving the footfall before building improvements.”
A study – conducted on behalf of Wrexham Council by Quarterbridge Project Management – proposed £3 million of upgrades at the three town centre markets.
It suggested £1.4 million should be spent on reducing market operations in the People’s Market, with a cultural and arts hub put in place of some market space.
The Butchers’ Market would continue in its current form and receive £890,000 for a spruce-up, while the General Market would be “refocused” to provide space for restaurants and bars – aimed at boosting the night-time economy – at a cost of £729,000.
But traders and members of the scrutiny committee recommeded deferring the radical proposals.
Cllr Phil Wynn said: “What has been recommended is radical and may or may not be the right solution.
“It might be aspirational to have places like food outlets but the footfall in the town centre after 5pm might not sustain that business model.
“We would have to borrow money to do that and I’m not sure I could support recommendations for improving the ambience of the Butchers Market, which might not increase footfall. If we spend money we need to recoup it.”
Cllr Wynn was also cautious about the merits of a cultural centre at the People’s Market but added: “I would welcome a cultural centre in the town because we need to do more than we’re doing to attract people people here.”
Butchers Market trader Rob Clarke said radical change wasn’t necessary, and continuing to work with current management was the best way forward.
He said: “For years we felt we hadn’t been listened to by the council.
“We were cynical last year but what Amanda has done since has convinced us radical change isn’t needed.
“She needs longer than six months. It’s worth seeing what she can do with the People’s Market before it can be written of as a dud.”
The scrutiny committee voted to recommend a continuation of the current slow investment strategy.
The decision on the Quarterbridge recommendations will be considered by Wrexham Council’s executive committee.