Traders have said they will fight to save Nottingham’s “much-loved” Victoria Market from potential closure.
Nottingham City Council has put forward a proposal to review its operation of the market in the Victoria Centre, which opened in July 1972.
Closing it would save the Labour-run authority £39m over the remaining 50 years of its current arrangement.
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.
Mary Meakin, 62, has already decided to close her book shop after 60 years in the market. Her final trading day will be on Saturday.
She said: “It was a hard decision to make. We have been going for 60 years. It is costing us too much to be here – we pay £1,000 a month.
“It is hard for me, because it is all I have done for the last 50 years. I started working here when I was 12. It is my life’s work.
“A lot of our customers live on their own and we might be the only people they talk too. It is a lifeline. The market needs proper management.”
Richard Everington, 68, has run sweet and confectionery shop, the Sweet Tooth Cave, for more than three years, but the business has been in the centre for the last 30.
He has also decided to close and concentrate on his shop in Carlton.
“It is a lack of investment by the council,” he said. “It is a dump. It needs to be more appealing; it has still got its 70s/80s look and the rents are horrendous. The council has invested no money into it and we have had enough.”
But other businesses say they will fight any decision which sees the historic market closed.
John Easom, 44, is the owner of the Gold Bank, and says there are 30 businesses currently in the market but there is the potential for many more.
“I have tried to move onto the front of the market, and they are not interested.
“I am going to fight this. They are trying to kill it and I can’t see why.
“There are 200 stalls in here and at £500 a month for each stall they would get £100,000 a month. It should be thriving.”
Stephen Taylor, 53, from hardware store Aladdin’s Cave, says the closure of the market will put up to 90 people out of work – four within his unit.
“We are going to fight this all the way,” he said. “It is an asset to Nottingham. Every other city in the country has a market. This should and could be the heart of Nottingham.
“This is a family business of four generations. We will be unemployed if it closes. Traders have paid millions to the council over the years.”
Stroke survivor Andrew Law, 54, from Carlton, said he visits the market every day and would be lost without it.
“We are here every day,” he said. “Don’t take away our cafe, this is our meeting point. I think the council should invest more money into it because it is dismal.
“Once upon a time it was not like this at all, but over the years it has fallen into disrepair.”
Sandra Evans, 75, from Aspley, said: “I think it is going to be a shame. It is a meeting point for a lot of people and we would not know where to go if it closed.”
Jackie Glover, 76, from St Ann’s, said she has been visiting the tea shop in Victoria Market since the 1990s.
“If this market closed I would stop at home,” she said.
“I have been coming out to this market every day. For me, it is my life. This market was brilliant but they have let it deteroriate.”
The council leases the market space in the Victoria Centre and says it provides “a significant annual subsidy.”
This is due to reduced income to cover the landlord’s service charge and other running costs.
The council says its main government grant has also been slashed by millions over the last decade.
Discussions have therefore taken place around the principle of the council exiting the lease arrangement after other options were deemed not viable.
However, before any final decision is made, the council says it is consulting with stakeholders, customers and the public.
Acting portfolio holder for markets, Cllr Linda Woodings (Lab), said: “In its heyday, Victoria Market was a busy, popular market but sadly although the small number of customers who still use it have great affection for it, it has been under-used for years.
“Increased service charges by the previous owners intu, bringing the market in-line with other retailers, meant the council has had to subsidise its operation for many years, turning it into a financial liability for us – a situation which was worsened by Covid severely impacting traders’ income.
“The sort of investment that would be needed is something we simply cannot afford when our budgets are being squeezed by other demands and reduced income from Government.”
People can take part in the six week consultation which was launched on Monday, April 25.