Plans to bring a permanent market to Walsall back on track
Plans to bring a permanent market to Walsall town centre are back on the cards despite stalling over the last two years.
In March 2015, Walsall Council pledged to relocate and improve the historic Walsall Town Centre Market to a permanent location on The Bridge, however delays have hit the project since then.
Now, a regeneration boss has confirmed that it is hoped work will start in spring 2018 to bring a new market to the town.
The council was awarded £2 million to carry out the project but only £90,000 has been spent so far on feasibility studies and designs.
Council bosses will meet on Thursday at a corporate and public services scrutiny committee meeting to discuss the future of the plans and the delays so far, which have been blamed on changes in key personnel in the authority's regeneration and development services, as well as procurement advice that was not in line with the council's value for money policies.
Councillor Lee Jeavons, deputy leader of Walsall Council and portfolio holder for regeneration, said that for the plans to work properly, the authority will need the support of current traders.
He said: "We are anticipating that we will start work in spring 2018 to bring a permanent market to The Bridge.
"There is still some consultation to be carried out with market traders and we really want them on board.
"There have been delays along the way but we want to make sure when we get this done we get it done right.
"The market will be an exciting addition to the town and as Walsall is historically a market town we want to continue that tradition."
Councillor Mike Bird, leader of the Conservative party in Walsall and leader of the council at the time when the plans were first given the go ahead, said work needs to start 'sooner rather than later'.
He said: "This has been on the cards for a while but seems to have moved backwards in recent years so I am glad that it looks like things are moving forward now.
"I think having a market is important for Walsall and I do want to see it brought back to the town but we have to approach this properly.
"Unfortunately, like most markets across the country, ours is not performing as well as we would like.
"However, it is not helped by the fact that it is staggered and split up around the town centre.
"It needs to be a destination in itself with unique items available and we need to be having stalls putting things up for sale that sell.
"Fruit and vegetable stalls can't compete with supermarkets so thought needs to be given about what kind of market we want to offer people."