ST Johns Market in Liverpool City centre has closed.

Liverpool City Council has today (Monday, March 11) been forced to end the tenancy of traders within St Johns Market, with immediate effect.

The decision to cease the 43 tenancies follows a period of communication with the businesses operating at the market, to recover more than £1.7m of unpaid rent and service charges dating back to August 2020.

The council said they had offered the business owners the option of negotiation over the repayment of the debt, but “regrettably did not receive a meaningful response, leaving the council with no option but to close the market”.

Councillor Nick Small, Cabinet member for City Development, said: Regrettably, even after reminders were issued regarding the legal situation over non-payment of monies, the council has been left with no option but to close St Johns Market.

“The business owners have now been informed of the situation and will be invited to collect their stock. The council has also offered assistance to help find alternative retail locations for those who wish to continue to operate in the city centre.

“The council has made this decision to close the stalls very reluctantly, every non-paying business owner was given plenty of time and opportunity to enter into a meaningful dialogue.

“Given the annual cost to the council of leasing the site for the Market is around £1million a year, it is no longer a viable situation for the businesses to continue to pay no rent, service charges and to offer only a repayment offer of 33% for past and future costs. This offer does not represent best value to our residents and has been rejected by the council.

“Each non-paying business owner owes tens of thousands of pounds to the council and we cannot continue to subsidise their businesses. We have a duty to collect and it’s not fair to continue in this way when we have vital services to protect and other businesses across the city are fully paying their way.”

A spokesperson for Liverpool City Council said: “As a result of non-payment, the cost to the council of subsidising the Market, which is leased from St Johns Shopping Centre, now amounts to around £1m a year.  

“All of the businesses will be invited to arrange a date and time with the council to collect any stock left within the stall they operated from.

“One business has been making payments throughout this period and the council will look to undertake negotiations to relocate that stall.

“The council wrote to the non-paying businesses in October last year informing them that all outstanding monies were due, whilst confirming that any arrears incurred between July 2017 and August 2020 had been written off.

“A reminder was then sent in January, with an adjoining letter inviting the 43 non-paying businesses to enter meaningful negotiations, within a 30-day deadline.

“Despite further correspondence being issued reminding the business owners of the need to confirm payment on an individual basis, no plausible offer was forthcoming. An offer of repayment and for future rent costs to be set at 33% was sent to the council but was deemed unviable given the scale of the debts owed.

“Under tenancy legislation the council has taken the step to close each stall. As a result, the market will now be closed to the public. 

“The council remains committed to a viable and sustainable future use for the site and will now review all feasible options.

“The closure of the market hall does not impact on St Johns Shopping Centre, which remains fully open for business and is unaffected by this action.”