Proposal to revitalise Romford Market divides shoppers and traders

Romford market plan

Romford market plan - Credit: Archant

Ambitious plans for a £2million transformation of Romford Market have been largely welcomed by the public – but traders are not so pleased.

The sorry state of Romford Market at 11.30am on Saturday November 14

The sorry state of Romford Market at 11.30am on Saturday November 14 - Credit: Archant

Consultant 20:20 Ltd has spent the year creating ideas for a new-look market as Havering Council bids to make it more vibrant.

The “everyday adventure” re-brand will aim to bring in 50 new traders in the next four years and will include “moving and improving” stalls, holding seasonal and cultural events and creating new market days.

Recorder readers reacted positively to the news, but the traders haven’t.

“The food court is for tourists,” said Dave Crosby, 57, who has had his fishmongers stall since 1974. “We’ve had a food court for two years advertised on the website. There’s one burger van there and sometimes a Caribbean bloke comes on a Saturday.”

Dave said council bosses did not understand the ins and outs of market life and its best hope was to attract coach companies who will bring shoppers to the town.

He also expressed concerns about plans to introduce extra market days.

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Barry Canham, 20 years an antiques stallholder, echoed Dave’s comments.

“They’ve got their head in the clouds, there’s no point having fancy food stalls if there’s no one to sell it to,” he said.

“The only way they are going to get new stallholders is by giving them a fair deal, and the only way they are going to keep the current ones is to give them a fair deal too.”

Barry said reduced rates and the option to take holiday would attract traders.

“No-one has any disposable income,” he continued. “People come to markets for something different and a bargain.

“Traders are going to boot fairs now because its cheaper. We have to pay £8 to park our vans here on top of the rent.”

Traders are not the only ones feeling sceptical at a meeting of Havering Council’s cabinet on Wednesday Cllr Ray Morgan questioned why it would halt the decline where others have failed.

Council leader Cllr Roger Ramsey said: “This report is based on the best advice available and we do have to do something.”

Councillors voted to endorse the plan at Wednesday’s meeting.

Funding applications will now be made and implementation plans developed.