War of the words over Denbighshire town market


Helen Davies

A TOWN market will reopen this weekend following a furious dispute between stall holders and managers.

A row erupted between traders at Ruthin Market and Grosvenor Facilities Management (GFM), earlier this month.

The company then closed the market causing fears that trade in the town would be damaged.

It is now set to reopen this Saturday... but some stall holders say they will refuse to return and have now moved to Denbigh’s market.

“It has damaged trade in Ruthin,” said stall holder Marie Weston.

“A lot of people are upset about it, we’ve been in the town for a long time and have brought good money in.”

GFM say the market was closed because there was £2,500 outstanding in table rents, but Marie says she and other regular traders have paid all their bills.

The conflict stems from changes to the terms and conditions that traders were asked to sign by GFM last month.

According to traders they had been told they couldn’t have any stalls selling the same products as each other and they wouldn’t be allowed to vary what they sold over the year.

Andrew Reeves, managing director of GFM, told the Free Press this was a policy they had introduced to help the market.

“We’re looking to build the market trading hall up to enable the people of Ruthin to get more out of it,” he said.

“We’re wanting to broaden the scope of the market and the number of products being sold.”

He added: “The only reason it’s been closed is purely because there was such an outstanding sum of money from various traders and the terms and conditions hadn’t been signed. A lot of them are paid up but there’s a small minority who have not paid.”

The running of the market was taken on by Grosvenor Facilities Management in January 2011.

GFM contract director Nicci Harris said: “The market will definitely be open on Saturday.
“GFM operate the market but are looking to have somebody local to manage it who understands the town and is able to promote it in a positive light. We’ve asked one trader to do this as we feel it will be beneficial to the town.”

Trader Sue Shaw will be managing the market under a contract from GFM and has a stall selling flowers, plants and eggs.

“I'm looking forward to introducing some new traders to the market,” she said. “There will be some of the traders from before as well as new ones.”

Ruthin Chamber of Commerce and Denbighshire County Council have been in talks with both GFM and the traders to try to resolve the dispute.

A spokesman for Denbighshire County Council said they had been working to explore alternative management arrangements for the market hall with the companies involved in the Private Finance Initiative arrangements for the building.

He said the aim was to secure “a sustainable and attractive indoor market which would complement the rest of the town's retail offer which last week received a glowing report from the Retail Sector Skills Council”.

Ruthin councillor David Smith said: "As far as Ruthin is concerned all we want is a market. We don't care who runs it, as long as it's open to increase the footfall of Ruthin.”

Fellow Ruthin Cllr Bobby Feeley said: “It’s a great pity there’s been all this upset because it’s a vital part of the town.”

Clwyd West AM Darren Millar said: “I'm very pleased the market will now reopen.

“It would have been disastorous for Ruthin if it had been closed permanently. I'm wanting now to make sure any differences between the traders are overcome in order that they continue to sell their products in Ruthin and do not move to other locations.”

The Country Market, which runs on a Friday, has continued to trade as normal throughout the dispute between those involved in the Saturday market.

To book a stall at the reopened market call Sue Shaw on 07772136169.

See full story in the Free Press

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