Worried market traders demand more council help

Fleetwood Market.
Fleetwood Market.

Traders at Fleetwood Market have sent an open letter and petition to their local authority urgently calling for changes in the way it is being promoted.

The stallholders say Fleetwood Market, overseen by Wyre Council and in operation since the 1840s, has lost so many customers its future could soon be in doubt.

Trader Ian Ogilvy.

Trader Ian Ogilvy.

But Wyre Council insists it did listen to the traders’ concerns at a recent meeting with the stallholders and says it takes the wellbeing of Fleetwood Market seriously.

The authority says all the issues raised are being looked into and an action plan drawn up.

The letter calls for changes before the falling footfall causes the situation to become “terminal”.

Ian Ogilvy, who is a director of a jewellery business based at the market, drafted the letter and said: “The key fact is that the market manager, who knows the market business and how to promote it, is no longer in control of marketing it.

“For the last two years it is being promoted by a part-time council employer who doesn’t have that background. The number of leaflets and cards being sent to Fylde coast hotels, which is where our customer base is, has been downgraded and instead a large part of it is put online.

“We are missing out on coach firms who drop passengers at Freeport but don’t come here. The resulting lack of footfall is disastrous and urgently needs addressing by Wyre.”

Trader Stella Green, who runs a perfume stall on Adelaide Street market, said: “We understand that £25,000 is allocated each year to marketing this place but there seems to be no concise strategy.”

Part of the letter reads: “The footfall is in serious decline and if allowed to continue at this rate it will be terminal. The decline can be directly pinpointed to the decision to transfer the market advertising from the market manager, who has experience of the specific needs of the situation, to a part-time council officer with little or no contact with the traders, whose livelihoods are at stake.

“This is not a lone voice, the signed petition attached shows the degree of concern from all traders.”

A Wyre spokesman said: “Fleetwood Market is a key asset in Wyre and an important part of the local economy. We are drawing up an action plan following the recent meeting with traders and intend to work with them to address their concerns.

“We’re looking at setting up a marketing task group comprising the marketing manager, marketing officer and two traders to work together to focus marketing activity.

“This group will link in to the already established market forum which brings traders and the council together regularly, so that we can listen to ideas and concerns and work together to secure a better future for the market.

In addition, we are prioritising essential maintenance work and continuing our endeavours to generate income that can then be re-invested back into Fleetwood Market and other assets.”