Campaigns planned to boost trade at new flagship market hall in Barnsley

Three campaigns are being planned to boost trade at Barnsley’s new market hall as a rift between traders and their council landlords has opened up with accusations over the way the premises – intended as a town centre focal point – are being operated.

Monday, 18th March 2019, 4:49 pm
Updated Thursday, 21st March 2019, 1:52 pm

Trade levels have left some stallholders closing early or failing to open on some days, provoking solicitor’s letters from Barnsley Council because they are obliged to trade full hours over a six day week under the terms of the leases for premises in the hall, part of the new Glass Works retail and leisure centre.

The new market falls under the portfolio of council Cabinet member Coun Roy Miller, who said the market hall was experiencing “bustling trade” – but within days, traders were told to expect three campaigns to promote the market and specifically Thursday openings, a ‘new’ day which historically was Barnsley’s half-day closing.

A campaign is due to start “shortly”, they have been told, which will include promotion through billboards, on bus shelters “and a lot more”, with another two “key campaigns” to follow, though at this stage traders have been given no details of those.

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In a message to traders, the council has also promised: “In between campaigns we will keep the momentum going with social media.”

That is being targeted at potential customers outside Barnsley as well as audiences within the borough.

The “frustrations” experienced by traders have been acknowledged, but some remain sceptical about the prospects for improving trade in the hall.

Some have been critical of the design of the building, suggesting the layout should have been given over retail experts, with one trader stating: “The design of the building has turned out terrible.

“Some people with serious retail knowledge should have been consulted but it has obviously been left to the council and construction.”

Another described their upstairs stall location as “My little ghost town”.

“Unfortunately for me, the location of my stall has killed it, quite literally.

“There is no footfall at all where I am. I was so much better in the yellow (temporary) building. I don’t think I can continue.”

Signage on the ground floor to promote the upstairs area was offered three months ago, but has yet to be installed, with the council accepting the frustration that has caused and promised they are “getting on with it”.

The Barnsley group of the National Market Traders’ Federation has already raised concern that some traders may want to opt out of the market when a break cause in their contract becomes available after two and a half years, because of the long hours and low turnover they are currently experiencing.

One said: “Us traders don’t want to be open on Thursdays, that’s plain to see....but it is obvious the customers don’t want to be there on Thursdays either, otherwise they would be coming into the market to shop.”

The market is a key component of Barnsley’s town centre regeneration and has been given a much more prominent location than it had for decades, following the last redevelopment in the early 1970s.

The council’s aim has been to encourage custom by providing entrances directly onto May Day Green and Cheapside, rather than leaving it concealed behind conventional shops, as was previously the case.

Part of the intention is to amalgamate the market with other elements of the town’s fresh look, including a first floor ‘market kitchen’ food mall, intended to offer a wide range of eating options alongside the traditional market cafes currently trading there.