POPULAR fishmonger Malcolm Smith says he is considering quitting Eastgate Market in favour of a market which has headhunted him – as the row deepens over whether the market should move or stay.
Eastgate Market traders are being presented with three alternative locations as The Eastgate shopping centre bosses push ahead with a plan to replace them with a TK Maxx store.
But traders are adamant that they do not want to be moved upstairs as they feel it will kill their businesses.
But Mr Smith, who has a veteran of the market, having run a stall there for 35 years, has been approached by a market in Pontypool, Wales, to jump ship. He has been offered rent half the price of Gloucester in a market that has just enjoyed a £2.5million revamp.
He said: “I don’t want to leave Gloucester because I am the only independent fishmonger now but I have to think about our future and Pontpool is a market for the future. They are investing in the future of their market – why can we do the same in Gloucester?
“We have had some very good years here in recent times but if we are moved upstairs we will close down in no time at all.”
Miriam Bubb, spokesman for the market traders, said: “It would be a real shame to lose Malcolm and it makes you wonder if other traders will also be approached.
“This market has survived in this location for 45 years. We want to protect the city’s heritage and we don’t believe moving upstairs will do that.”
Gloucester City Council has said it will present three options for relocating and the associated costs for traders by the end of May. In June they will conduct research on the streets of Gloucester, and after that traders will have to make their final decision on whether to stay or move.