COUNCILLORS have called a special meeting in a bid to save a condemned town centre market.
Devastated traders at Newton Aycliffe were given a month’s notice of the weekly market's closure after town centre owners Freshwater terminated its agreement with the licence holder, Great Aycliffe Town Council.
With no alternative sites available, the council said it had no choice but to close the market, which trades for the final time on Tuesday, May 27.
However, on Wednesday, May 21, an extraordinary council meeting will be held to re-examine possible sites, including derelict land on Greenwell Road, close to The Cubby community cafe.
The site, owned by Durham County Council, had been ruled out but Labour councillors Arun Chandran and Eddy Adam, who called the meeting, are asking it to reconsider.
They have proposed the following motion: “That Durham County Council be requested to reconsider their refusal to allow temporary use of the vacant and derelict site adjacent to the Cubby for use by the market until such time as the site is sold off by Durham County Council or such time as the town centre private owners facilitate a new market in the town centre, whichever comes first.”
Privately owned, the shopping centre has been subject to a multi-million pound revamp in recent years.
During the work, the market was relocated to a nearby car park but has since moved in front of Churchill House, which is to be demolished next month.
Freshwater has not confirmed its reason for ending the agreement and the traders, who were expecting to return to the town centre once work was complete, are furious.
Dave Bond, who has run a watch stall at the market for more than 30 years, said it would destroy his livelihood.
“I have been here for such a long time and built up a loyal customer base, many of whom came from other towns like Chilton, Bishop Auckland and Ferryhill,” he said.
“If we are going to save the market, we have to act quickly as usually when something goes, we lose it forever.”
Freshwater declined to comment and Durham County Council is unable to comment at this stage.
The meeting takes place at 7.15pm at the council offices on School Aycliffe Lane.