'It's destroyed us' - chairman of traders on shock St Johns Market closure

"We'd love to pay our way. We just need the opportunity”
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After the bombshell news on Monday that St Johns Market Hall had been closed with immediate effect by Liverpool City Council, the chairman of the Market Traders Association said he was in 'absolute shock'.

The local authority says it was 'forced; to act as traders owe more than £1.7m in rent and service charges. Stall holders were handed letters informing them their lease had been terminated with immediate effect by security guards on the locked doors on Monday.

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"Absolute shock and horror. Over 200 people trying to get into work discovered they had been locked out," Colin Laphan, chairman of the Market Traders Association, told LiverpoolWorld.

"We'd love to pay our way. We just need the opportunity, and that would involve having escalators that work, lifts that work, clean areas, and clean surfaces to be allowed to operate like proper businesses. Even the entranceway looks like a cave. It's embarrassing for the city. It's destroyed us over the last four or five years. It's destroyed us bit by bit, so as much as we put on a brave face, it hurts, and it hurts the city."

One of Britain's oldest indoor markets, dating back to 1822, it was taken over by the local authority in 2016. Once one of the most advanced in Europe, its refurbishment in 2016 did not work as hoped, seeing a reduction in footfall. With the Council in charge, internal repairs and maintenance have been the local authority's responsibility.

In light of the businesses within the market owing more than £1.7m in rent and service charges, the council say this does not represent best value to residents. The local authority says 43 stall owners will be invited to arrange a date and time to collect any stock. The council has also offered assistance in finding alternative retail locations for those who wish to continue to operate in the city.

Chairman of St Johns Market Traders Association, Colin LaphanChairman of St Johns Market Traders Association, Colin Laphan
Chairman of St Johns Market Traders Association, Colin Laphan
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Councillor Nick Small, Cabinet member for City Development, said: "All businesses have to pay rent, they have to be the bills when they come in and these businesses haven't been paying. They owe £1.7m to the city council, and that's not fair on the residents of the city, it's not fair on the taxpayers, it's not best value for the city council, and this administration has got to ensure that the council does secure best value for the taxpayer and that wasn't the case here."

The council remains a tenant of St John's Shopping Centre with 63 years left on its lease.

  • Watch the video above for our full feature on the closure of St Johns Market and to hear more from Colin Laphan, chairman of the Market Traders Association, and Councillor Nick Small, Cabinet member for City Development.

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