Stafford councillor tells social media users to 'stop with the negativity' about town centre

A councillor has urged social media users to “stop with the negativity” when commenting on a town centre.

Stafford Market
Stafford Market

The market in the Guildhall Shopping Centre, in Market Square, Stafford, was bought by property enterprise Mercia Real Estate earlier this year.

Since then a number of stores in the centre have closed, including The Works, Claire’s and Poundland, but at the September meeting of the borough council's economic development and planning scrutiny committee members were told the indoor market’s future was “perfectly safe”.

A new report shows that the council’s indoor market income is currently £20,000 lower than budgeted for.

Speaking at Tuesday’s committee meeting Councillor Marnie Phillips said: "When people are talking about Stafford town centre there’s got to be a negative spin on social media, people voicing their concerns. I think there needs to be a positive perspective now.

“Stop with the negativity – people are not going to shop in these places if everybody’s telling them there’s no reason to go there. The reality is there is every reason to go there, just as there was every reason to go there before.

“I think we need to be encouraging more positives, to come and shop in the market and support these local businesses who are working really hard to earn a living and support themselves and their families. Stop listening to so much negativity around it all.”

Councillor Dee McNaughton said: “I have had a number of inquiries from members of my ward who want to know what is going on at the Guildhall and the market. People are not going in because they think it’s closed.”

In reply the council’s economic growth and strategic partnership manager Michelle Smith said: “In terms of the Guildhall Centre somebody in the private sector has bought it and they have lost units within there because they have plans for the site of their own. In time it will come into the public domain what they want to do with that site.

“What we do know is that any retailers that are still within the Guildhall that are looking to relocate within the town centre will be helped to relocate to something that suits them. I think we just need to wait a little bit longer to see what the owners of that site’s plans are.”

The council’s head of operations Robert Simpson said: “We’re working with market traders as much as possible and looking for new traders to come into the market. Yes, there has been issues with footfall into there but the market manager and assistant are doing everything possible to keep the market as vibrant as possible.

“We’re not increasing market rents in the fees and charges in the new year.”

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