Council reacts to market complaints

PUBLISHED: 07:00 16 June 2006 | UPDATED: 11:01 22 October 2010

City Hall has hit back at criticism from Norwich stallholders who had branded the city's £4.5m revamped market a “disaster”.

City Hall has hit back at criticism from Norwich stallholders who had branded the city's £4.5m revamped market a “disaster”.

In a letter which traders will receive today Norwich City Council addresses concerns about health and safety risks, stall security, defects and “deplorable” level of cleanliness.

The concerns came to light after Gareth Butcher, chairman of the National Market Traders' Federation, sent an angry letter to the council.

But head of property Mark Butler said that, while early teething problems were inevitable, the market is fit for purpose. Next week representatives of the construction team will return to the site to address remaining concerns.

One of the key issues raised by members of the National Market Traders' Federation surrounded security shutters which traders claim do not provide sufficient protection and which regularly breakdown.

Mr Butler admitted the council had not anticipated so many problems with the shutters, but added: “These shutters are in use across the UK and Europe in a variety of installations and neither ourselves nor the suppliers are aware of any compromise to security, provided that they are operated in the correct manner.

“When the shutters were installed traders were challenged by the contractor to gain entry to a stall using a variety of instruments but were unsuccessful. Since then there have been a small number of attempts of forced entry to the stalls, during which the shutters have proved suitably resilient.”

Throughout next week stallholders will be given tuition on how to properly operate the shutters.

Referring to the cleanliness of the market, Mr Butler said: “The traders are right to criticise the level of cleansing on the market and I have previously acknowledged at trader meetings that this has been unsatisfactory. There has been some improvement since then.”

Other concerns such as faulty awnings and signs which fell down after being attached with sticky tape have also been addressed.

“As is the normal practice contracts, there is a retention clause whereby a proportion of the contract payment is held back after completion to deal with any outstanding 'snagging' items,” said Mr Butler.

“I would be happy to meet with traders and, in light of the proposed snagging week, I would suggest we meet shortly afterwards.”

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