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"Move it or lose it" warns director over future of Gravesend Borough Market

PUBLISHED: 11:07 05 May 2011

Gravesend's Borough Market is struggling with the recession

Gravesend's Borough Market is struggling with the recession

Archant

Empty stalls and dwindling visitor numbers has seen both traders and the managers of a historic medieval market deliver dire warnings over its future.

Gravesend Borough Market, established in 1268, is owned by Gravesham Borough Council but run on a 10-year-lease, due to expire in 2012, by Urban Space Limited.

Eric Reynolds, a director of Urban Space Ltd, blamed poor promotion of the area, and on-running issues with a multi-million pound plan by Edinburgh House to develop the area, rejected last year, as the reason for trouble.

He said: “It is pretty straight forward. It is a question of how many people go beyond the top of the High Street. We have been in negotiations for the past five years, since the start of everything with Edinburgh House to find a better location for the market to keep it alive.”

Mr Reynolds sentiments are shared by traders in the market.

Maureen Hafner, 57, first started working on her clothing stall more than 40 years ago.

She said: “Things are really bad. It has been going down for the past three years. It comes from competition from 99 pence stores and big retailers. If this market was in the middle of the town it would get walk through custom. I don’t think it can last much longer.”

Ron Patch owns four stalls in the market and believes Urban Space should invest in upgrading the building.

He said: “I am a great believer in the market and I still think there is a place for it. Urban Space need to invest in this building, the lighting is terrible, these windows are covered in grime, it is not appealing to people. A lot could be done.”

Mr Reynolds confirmed his company was not planning investment and would not renew its lease next year.

He said: “If the town is serious about its market they must put in some energy and relocate.”

A spokesman for the council said he could not comment on commercial negotiations but pointed to work by the council to promote the area.

“The council is keen to regenerate the High Street and has put in a large amount of work and shown a lot of good will in doing precisely that. “Investment has been made in the Old Town Hall, work is taking place on a river pontoon, and on moorings. The market is a key part of that whole process,” the spokesperson said.

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