Mansfield MP has criticised the controversial plans for the town’s weekly market saying: “You can’t ignore the general public.”
Sir Alan Meale was referring to thousands of responses to a public consultation which were discounted by Mansfield District Council before the decision was taken to make radical changes to the weekly event.
This includes moving stalls from Westgate to Market Place, hiking up pitch prices and doing away with the Monday market as part of a £100,000 overhaul.
But what has angered Mr Meale is that only the 717 online responses to the future of the market were considered, while more than 3,709 paper responses were disregarded.
Councillor Stewart Rickersey, portfolio holder for corporate services, said the this was because the paper survey was biased and was presented to the public as a ‘save our market’ campaign when there was never any intention of closing the market.
Sir Alan Meale agreed that the plans were ‘heading in the right direction’ but said there are ‘fundamental mistakes’, particularly in ignoring the public’s response.
“They need the stall holders on their side, they are after all the backbone of the market, and they are the ones putting themselves on the frontline,” he added.
“Cutting market days and increasing rents might drive people away.
“If you look at the (paper) responses, the decision the council has taken is outside of that.
“These were views of the shoppers and market traders, and I do not believe you can discount public opinion, it needs to be taken into account.
“If it comes out with the answers you don’t like, tough, you can’t just ignore them.”
The grand plans for the market were rubber stamped on Friday, and are expected to come into force by April next year.
As well as moving the stalls out of Westgate and scrapping the Monday market, the cash will be used to buy new stalls, canopies, signage and trader name boards.
They will create ‘incubation space’ for new traders, introduce branded workwear and name badges for traders, plan themed and seasonal events and hold dedicated promotions.
There are also plans for an entertainment area to encourage street artists to perform in an effort to create a better atmosphere.
Coun Rickersey said: “Doing nothing is not an option, neither is doing more of the same.
“We want to put Mansfield market back at the heart of the town centre and bring more traders and customers to the market place.
“From April the price of stalls will increase, but traders will be able to stand on Mansfield market from as little as £6 per day.
“The most any market trader will pay is £26 per stall per day for a premium location.
“We still think this demonstrates good value for money. Market fees and charges have not been increased for a decade.”