A Birkenhead Market trader says Wirral Council are ‘destroying the market and many livelihoods’ in relocation plans to temporary market space.

In March, Wirral Council proposed plans to open a temporary market space in St Werburgh’s Square for Birkenhead Market traders.

However, despite there being 72 traders in Birkenhead, the new temporary space will only be able to hold 24 stalls inside and 24 stalls outside meaning some will be unable to continue trading.

Andrew Porter, a trader at the markets, has had his stall for 10 years and says the new plans for the temporary market space are unsuitable for traders.

He said: “Not only is there not enough room for all the traders but the outside area doesn’t have protection from the wind and rain which means we would have to set up and pack up every day.

“I’ve got two big printers and a computer so outside is no good for me whatsoever and it won’t be for other traders here as well.

Birkenhead Market stalls are set to move to St Werburghs Square

Birkenhead Market stalls are set to move to St Werburgh's Square

“Although the council are offering 48 spaces not everyone will be able to use the 24 on the outside because of the lack of protection meaning there could be up to 48 traders being made redundant.”

Andrew also worries about the ‘cherry picking’ process that will be used to decide which stalls get offered a space in the new temporary location.

He said: “We’ve been told the council are going to get a private company to assess our stalls to see who they think are viable.

“We have no idea what this company is going to assess us on. I have been here every day from 8.30am until 5.00pm for the last 10 years; I pay my rent and I cause the council no hassle.

“And now we are going to have someone who comes in and doesn’t have a clue about anything I do as a trader to judge the worth of my business.”

The relocation comes as part of the regeneration process for Birkenhead in which the council plans to build a new bespoke permanent market space.

The scheme is being supported by the Future High Streets Fund and in December 2020 it was announced that the council’s bid from the Fund for £24.6 million to help with the major transformation of Birkenhead had been successful.

Andrew says he is concerned about how the selection for the temporary market will impact the decision making when it comes to the new market being finally ready.

He said: “Traders have been told that even if they are selected as one of the 48 stalls to be given a place in the temporary market that they are still not guaranteed a space in the new market.

“You could spend two years going through the hassle of settling in there inside or outside and get nothing from it whatsoever.”

Andrew said that traders have already been left reeling from the hit of Coronavirus and Brexit that now the uncertainty around the future of the market has created an unsettling atmosphere among traders.

He added: “We’ve had four horrendous years as a market. This is our livelihoods. I have still managed to pay £600 a month in rent for my stall and I have had no help from the council. They just told me to get on with it.

“The council has always promised they will look after the existing traders and they haven’t.

“What am I going to do? I am a hard worker but I’m 51 now and Type 1 Diabetic. Even if I get offered a space, I can’t set up and take down my stall every day. I won’t survive it. It will put me in an early grave.”

Andrew says he asked the council about using the empty TJ Hughes or Marks and Spencers stores as a temporary market location but is yet to receive a response.

“We’ve got two major shops sitting there empty doing nothing traders would move in there tomorrow given the chance.

“Retail is horrendously hard at the moment and we just want support from Wirral Borough Council.

“Birkenhead is a market town and they are going to take that away and give us a temporary 24 stall market like Chester and it’s just not going to work.

“The council don’t realise what we go through and the types of service we provide and they won’t see until it’s gone.”

Wirral Council have been approached for a comment.