BETWEEN the traders of Eastgate Market they have some 300 years of experience.
Last week, plans to relocate the market above The Eastgate shopping centre were unveiled by shopping centre bosses and Gloucester City Council.
The market would be relocated upstairs by April 2015 and the current site would be demolished to make way for a new TK Maxx store.
Today, experienced traders reveal what they really think about the plans and the impact it would have on their market.
It is clear what shoppers think – 9,000 have signed a petition calling for it to stay where it is.
Shopper Barbara Haile, who has been coming to the market all of her life, said: “We come here every week. It is vital that it stays here. My mum used to work on a cheese stall here and loves coming here still, but she hates lifts. She wouldn’t want to go upstairs. There seems to have been no thought put into the idea.”
But Jason Robinson, centre manager at The Eastgate shopping centre, said: “The consultation process and final decision is being handled by Gloucester City Council. Whilst we would love to have the opportunity to embrace the indoor market as an anchor to the new scheme, we have to allow the consultation period to be completed by the local authority and the decision process to be followed through.”
VOICE of the traders, Miriam Bubb, who runs a stall that sells parts for vacuum cleaners, says the new plans do not resemble a market.
“We thought it was going to look like a market, like the one we have now,” said Miriam. “But this does not.
“This market only works because all of the traders work together. But what they have planned looks more like shop fronts and that simply isn’t going to work for us.
“A lot of us are concerned about moving upstairs, but above all we just want to protect the market for the future generation of traders.”
FORTY years of selling bags has taught Julian Smith a thing or two about how markets work best.
He said: “I went to Newport recently and their market has had a lot of money put into it. It looks absolutely fantastic.
“But when I went upstairs it was completely deserted. It was a void. The cafe had shut down and there were just two traders who were there on free rent. The fact is that markets upstairs just do not work.
“If they take us upstairs this market will die, but maybe that is their objective. Perhaps we are just in the way.
“Our city deserves a first rate market, not one that they just want to milk to death.
“The older people just do not want to go upstairs and at the end of the day they are our customers.
“Your girlfriend wouldn’t be seen dead in one of my handbags but the older people rely on these stalls.
“Let’s take the blinkers off. TK Maxx is not the solution. It’s a shop full of other retailer’s tat that they couldn’t sell.
“Let’s unite around our market and make it one that our city can be proud of.”
AFTER 30 years of trading in Eastgate Market, Alison Gough and her family will move The Sewing Box into a retail unit elsewhere in the city before moving upstairs.
“We just won’t go,” she said. “We would move out into a shop before doing that because it will never work up there.
“The market looks like it is going to be tucked away and we are definitely not happy about that.”
AFTER 36 years running a sweet stall, Sandria Lee retired – but not for long.
She soon got itchy feet and took on a new pet stall, which she has been running for two years.
She believes the move upstairs is a ‘done deal’.
“I wouldn’t go up there by choice,” she said. “Having said that, at the end of the day I’ve got a business to run but I think it is a done deal.
“The council don’t look at he future. They only care about what happens while they are in office. If they lose their seats they’ll just go back to their other jobs, but for us this is our livelihoods.
“They took my money two years ago for this stall and I couldn’t sell it on even if I tried now. We have lost out and that is what the council has done to us.
“We fought off moving the market before and we will do it again. We won’t go down without a fight.”
CAFE owner Simon East is one of the few traders who are happy to move upstairs – but he is worried about the current plan.
Mr East, who has run his cafe for four years, said: “If we are going to move upstairs it has got to look right.
“I don’t want to lose any seats because we are already extremely busy every day, especially on a Saturday. Any less seats and my business will lose out.
“It is not just about getting what we want, but rather what we need.
“We also don’t want to see the rent shoot up in two years time if things aren’t working out. If my turnover has doubled then of course I’d be happy to pay more, but we need to have these things in writing.
“It would be better to go upstairs. Customers don’t like the smell of fish from the fish stall and it needs air conditioning and proper extraction facilities. It needs to be brighter and more modern too.”
FISHMONGER Malcolm Smith says he’s yet to find a second floor market in the UK that actually works.
Mr Smith, who has run his stall for more than 30 years, said: “We were also told at the meeting we had about the plans that no traders would be forced to move. We need to make it quite clear that we are against this option.”
He added that his stall is purpose built to take away more than 100 gallons of water every day – and that moving it upstairs would be a ‘nightmare’.
DISABLED people needing therapy treatments rely on the Chakra Shed for its easy wheelchair access.
Many of them would feel uncomfortable with using a lift, Colin Garrett, from the stall has warned.
He said: “Where we are now is ideal because the wheelchairs can come straight into the therapy room with such ease. Many of them don’t like to use lifts. They say they would go with us but how long would it be before that loyalty wears thin.
“I don’t like this suggestion that the market should be treated like an anchor store in the shopping centre. The likes of Tesco are an anchor, we are not. We are an attraction and we need to be treated like one.
“The plans show the market pushed away to the back and that’s not right. The market should be something to show off, something that you walk through to get somewhere.”
‘DINGY and cold’ is how olive stall holder Zouhair Kahla describes the current Eastgate Market. He can’t wait to move upstairs.
“It would be a positive move,” he said. “It needs to be properly heated and bright.
“The council and Paul James have got the right idea.
“At the moment this market is dingy and it is very, very cold.”
FOR 30 years Jackie Atkins has worked in the market and she admits that it is ‘time for a change’ but she says traders have been ‘deceived’ by the current plans.
She still wants stalls to be able to look on at each other in a grid format. “They way they told us it was going to be, sounded good,” she said. “It was going to be like what we have now, but upstairs – but seeing the plan now, they look more like units. It is deceitful to say the least.
“If they are going to create a market like we have now then my personal opinion is that it would be a good idea. I have been here for over 30 years and it is time for a change.”