HOPES of saving a market that was banished from a revamped town centre have been dashed after traders rejected a potential new site.
Stallholders, who traded in Newton Aycliffe for the final time last week, say an alternative site, on nearby Greenwell Road, would be unviable owing to poor footfall.
Last month, traders were given one month’s notice to leave the town centre after its owner, Freshwater, terminated an agreement with Great Aycliffe Town Council to stage a weekly market.
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The move was fiercely criticised by traders and shoppers, who said the closure would impact on other town centre businesses and deprive residents of an amenity that has been in place for more than 30 years.
At an extraordinary town council meeting, on Wednesday, May 21, councillors agreed to ask Durham County Council for permission to use its land on Greenwell Road, near the Cubby community cafe, on a temporary basis.
But, after analysing public safety, access and cost implications, Durham County Council ruled out the Cubby site.
Instead, the authority put forward the former direct works depot site, also on Greenwell Road, as a potential alternative.
However, Newton Aycliffe Market Traders Association has rejected the proposal.
Secretary Mandy Owen said: “During the revamp, we were moved into a car park on Greenwell Road and our takings plummeted.
“You just don’t get the footfall on that part of Greenwell Road and we wouldn’t make enough profit to cover our expenses.
“The Cubby site would have been better because you have all the people walking between Tesco and the shopping centre.”
The second phase of a multi-million pound revamp of Newton Aycliffe town centre was concluded last November, with the main shopping centre transformed into an open plaza, complete with new paving, seating and planting.
Traders were allowed to move from the car park to an area in front of the soon-to-be-demolished Churchill House shortly afterwards.
Freshwater has not revealed its reason for banning the market from the town centre but traders claim it is because their stalls have been unfairly labelled as “scruffy.”
Councillor Arun Chandran said he was disappointed the Cubby site, which has been derelict for 30 years, had been discarded.
He said: “One more year would have been of no consequence to Durham County Council but would have made all the difference to the traders and the people of Great Aycliffe. I feel very sorry for the traders.”
Freshwater declined to comment.