Traders' concerns over revamped market

PUBLISHED: 19:54 04 June 2006 | UPDATED: 10:57 22 October 2010

Norwich's revamped market has been branded a disaster by the very traders it was supposed to benefit.

Norwich's revamped market has been branded a disaster by the very traders it was supposed to benefit.

Angry stallholders are demanding talks with City Hall over a catalogue of blunders they say were made during the £4.6m facelift.

The Norwich branch of the National Market Traders' Federation claims there are serious health and safety risks and want council bosses to meet its members to tackle the problems.

Among their concerns are:

Security shutters which regularly break down.

Retractable awnings which jam.

Major defects already in the stalls, including warped doors and panels.

Signs marking each row were attached with sticky tape and have fallen down.

A “deplorable” level of cleanliness.

Newly-laid paving slabs starting to collapse.

Traders still have no handbooks detailing their rights, responsibilities and obligations, despite being promised them a year-and-a-half ago.

Gareth Butcher, chairman of the federation's Norwich branch, has written an angry letter to city council chief executive Laura McGillivray and Mark Butler in the council's property services department.

He is calling for an explanation about why the scheme has thrown up so many defects.

One of the traders' major concerns is the electric roller shutters which have been hit by what Mr Butcher called an “inordinate number of mechanical failures over the past four weeks”.

He said he had been told the shutters were the same type used in the Millennium Dome - but came with just a one-year guarantee.

“While it might have been sensible to employ shutters with a one-year guarantee for an exhibition space destined to last the same length of time, it would seem inappropriate to use the same shutters for a building with a projected lifespan of 20 to 30 years,” he said.

Mr Butcher also said there were problems with the retractable awnings, with one breaking free last weekend and almost hitting shoppers.

He said: “It does raise health and safety issues. We demand immediate action on this defect, and a full account of how such workmanship was allowed to proceed unsupervised and to be completed without checks.”

Mr Butcher, who runs the spice stall, also revealed that the letters put up to indicate each row had to be taken down because the workmen had run out of drill bits so just stuck them up with sticky tape.

Architect Michael Innes, who designed the market, said he was not responsible for the detailed selection of shutters and blinds but he had recommended that they were robust with decent locks.

He said: “I think the council had a 'fit for purpose' contract and they are asking the contractor to rectify the shutters which are not fit for purpose.”

A city council spokesman said: “We will, of course, investigate the complaints that have been raised and will respond to Mr Butcher.”

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