Rugeley indoor market mothballed as 'very few traders' make it 'not financially viable'

A town centre market is being mothballed by following a drop in stallholders.

The market at Rugeley Market has a host of empty stalls
The market at Rugeley Market has a host of empty stalls

Rugeley’s indoor market shuts this month after Cannock Chase Council decided it was no longer financially viable.

Cabinet members approved the closure during a private meeting.

The move is set to save Cannock Chase Council £67,000 each year from 2024/25 onwards, minutes from the closed session revealed.

The Bees Lane market hall, which was built in the early 1980s, is now due to be advertised to let “for a variety of uses”, subject to the landlord’s permission and planning permission being secured.

A £10,000 budget has been approved to advertise the site and obtain the landlord’s consent to vary the lease.

The minutes added: “Despite the best efforts of staff to encourage new business into the market, there continued to be very few traders wanting a stall within the market and correspondingly very little public footfall. Continuing to support the indoor market was not financially viable.

“Consultation with the remaining stallholders and the general public had not provided any justifiable reasons to keep the market hall open as an indoor market.

"The closure of Rugeley Indoor Market presented the council with an opportunity to make a significant annual budget saving, although savings in 2023-24 would be offset against mothballing and redundancy costs.”

Members of the council’s Economic Prosperity Scrutiny Committee had previously set up a working group to review the district’s indoor and outdoor markets.

They have recommended that Rugeley’s outdoor market and Cannock Street Market should continue to be supported as they are considered to be operating well.

Dean Piper, the council’s head of economic prosperity, told committee members at their latest meeting: “Notice was served to existing stall holders and the plan is to close before the end of the month. It will be mothballed.”

Councillor Louis Arduino said: “We did discuss the cost to buy it, which would be £4.75m to £5m. If we could find a spare £5m we could then buy it, otherwise we would be spending a lot more money over time.”

Councillor Alan Pearson said: “It is going to be a massive headache for many years to come.”

Cannock Chase Council held a public consultation on the future of the indoor market last year.

There were 35 stalls in the hall, but at the time of the consultation most were empty, the council’s website said, with just two traders operating a hair salon and a tearoom.

The website added: “As with all High Street retail through Covid, times have been tough with more shoppers moving to online retail solutions.

"Pre-Covid, the market hall had already been struggling to survive for a number of years, affected by online shopping and larger discount shops having greater buying power enabling them to sell at lower prices.

“The council has advertised locally in newspapers, on the council’s website and Facebook page, in the market hall itself and in local public buildings such as the library and other community buildings.

"Nationally, the council has advertised with market trader organisations.

“The council also (offered) discounted rents to new traders and long-term discounts to traders offering a service to customers rather than just selling goods.

"In autumn 2021, a period of six months’ free rent was offered to all new traders, however all traders that took up the council’s offer left at the end of the full discount period.”

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