A fiery pensioner threw down the gauntlet to a Sheffield Council chief by inviting him to The Moor Market with her to see how traders were ‘doing very badly’.
Valerie Wilson, aged 65, asked Coun Leigh Bramall – cabinet member for business, skills and development – to visit the market with her, and speak to traders about the impact that the loss of the FreeBee bus this year has had on business.
The retired Wincobank mum told Sheffield Council’s full meeting yesterday that removal of the bus meant people who used to be able to travel easily to the old Castle Market site now struggle to get to The Moor.
Val told councillors: “I would like Leigh Bramall to meet me and come down to the market to ask how traders are doing, because they are doing very badly due to the FreeBee bus being taken off.”
Val said councillors enjoy a more ‘lavish lifestyle’ than most Sheffield pensioners, so do not know what it is like to depend on a service such as the free bus. Four cafes have closed, she claimed.
She added: “Quite a few stalls have closed their shutters for good too, and a lot of stalls aren’t even open.”
Coun Bramall agreed to go to the market with Val to speak to traders.
But he contested some of her claims that traders were struggling, and said it was ‘untrue’ they were doing badly. He said the market should not be ‘talked down’.
He told the meeting: “There are 62,000 people visiting every week, that compares quite favourably with other markets – although it is not the footfall that was anticipated.”
He said footfall is measured regularly, and ‘there hasn’t been any change whatsoever since the FreeBee ended’.
Coun Bramall said he last met traders just three weeks ago, and some reported doing well. The bus had to be axed to meet Government cuts that hit South Yorkshire Transport Passenger Executive – and more buses serve the new market than the old one, he added.