Thursday 23 May 2024
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Nottingham

Traders in the dark over Victoria Centre Market compensation

Nottingham City Council says negotiations over the future of the Victoria Centre Market have largely finished and it is now working out whether compensation offers to traders will be good value for money for local taxpayers in the event of its closure.

Last year the Labour-run authority said it planned to end the lease on the market in a bid to save £39m over 50 years.

The market opened in the shopping centre upon its completion in 1972 and was once home to more than 200 stalls.

But the council says it must consider the market’s future because customer demand for it is falling, and it is paying a substantial subsidy to keep it going.

The council faces ongoing financial improvement work overseen by the Government, and as such, it is anticipated officers will soon recommend the market lease come to an end.

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Offers of compensation for traders have been negotiated and the council says it is now “able to consider the full financial impact of the proposed exit from the market”.

However, traders remain in the dark over a final decision and whether the offers will be met.

Nick Clark, of Cobblers and Keys said: “A year and three months later and we are still none-the-wiser.

“I’m too young to retire so I will have to find something else. I thought I knew the time scales but just this morning they pulled the rug from underneath me.

“We want to move on and make plans for me and my staff. Talks have finished and [the council] has gone back into their bunker and scurried away.”

Issues first became apparent in 2014 when the former owner of the centre, intu, introduced increased service charges before it later collapsed into administration in 2020.

The city council had been running the market at an annual trading loss ever since, having offered to subsidise the costs.

During the Covid pandemic, rent for traders was paused while they closed as per Government guidelines, but this had to be paid back.

Many traders owed thousands and the authority offered a repayment scheme to help them pay it back.

The council however deemed this to be unsustainable and no other viable alternative to the lease had been found, despite a six-month consultation concluding people wanted the market to continue trading.

A final decision is yet to be made.

In a statement on Monday, February 20 a city council spokesman added: “As part of a review of our operation of the Victoria Indoor Market, we put forward a proposal to end the lease.

“While our consultation showed strong support for the council’s ongoing running of and investment in Victoria Market, the reality is this is estimated to cost £39m over the next 50 years of the lease.

“As no viable alternative has been identified, officers are expected to recommend we end our lease and operation of the market, helping us to meet our duty to deliver value for money for local taxpayers.

“We have been undertaking confidential discussions with all traders about recommended offers of compensation in the event that the market closes.

“This engagement has now largely been completed and the council is able to consider the full financial impact of the proposed exit from the market.

“We will now need to undertake further work to consider whether this represents best value for taxpayers before a final decision is taken on the future of the market.”

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