Traders have called for action to ensure the future of Matlock’s ailing market – as a major review is launched.
Derbyshire Dales District Council is looking at the area’s markets in a bid to improve them.
The council is set to review the stalls fees and charges, improve communication with traders and assess the viability of the markets in Matlock, Wirksworth and Bakewell.
But Matlock traders fear the town’s historic market, which is held on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday, could disappear if the council does not take action soon.
The market hall, on Bakewell Road, was once a busy hub of activity with over 20 stalls selling a range of goods from crafts, antiques, china, clothes and fresh food.
But stallholders say business has declined rapidly over the last few years.
Billy Roberts, of Market Hall Butchers, said: “We could do with a few more people coming in.
“People look in from outside and then stop at the door as they don’t think there’s anything here.
“If the market was full people would walk round. I think if the council dropped the rents down more people would have a go.”
Currently traders pay around £20 a day to rent a stall.
Paul Bestwick, of PB Bargains, said his business was booming but he feared for the future of the site.
He added: “Most of the stalls lie empty now.
“The market is definitely important and I have built up a good business.
“All I’m concerned about is stopping here as I think the council want to redevelop all of this. It’s a fantastic location – right next to the supermarket and taxi rank. It just needs freshening up a bit and modernising.”
The council has issued the traders with questionnaires and is set to put together a draft report which will be discussed at a meeting in January.
The report and recommendations are then to be presented in February.
Only four traders at Matlock market responded to the questionnaire. With two rating the market hall location as “very good” or “good” and a further two saying it was “very poor”.
Traders added that they do not wish to move.
But the consultation also found the public think the site is unsuitable and unattractive and would prefer an outdoor market – at park head or the former Lido site.
The council has plans for a major redevelopment of the town centre which could see the site transformed or moved.
However a few “green shoots” of recovery are emerging at the market hall.
Matlock resident Sheila Laurence, a regular shopper at the market, is set to open an accessories and jewellery stall – Bliss – on December 2.
Sheila said: “I’m going to give it a try but if I don’t sell enough goods to pay the rent I will have to close.
“I think the market could do with brightening up a bit. It used to be really busy with quite a few stalls.
“I just don’t know where it has all gone wrong. I know we have the recession but in my opinion the council charges too much for rent.”
A spokesman for the council said the market hall was painted around two years ago. We have been asking people for feedback and talking to traders. We are doing a review of how things are going and see if there are any ways we can improve things.”