COUNCIL bosses are aiming to make peace with disgruntled market traders over ambitious plans to revitalise South Shields town centre.
Earlier this year some stallholders in the town’s ancient Market Place accused the council of “doing nothing” to help them.
They feared a £100m regeneration masterplan – which proposes to create a public green space, café and amphitheatre within the market square – would lead to a much-reduced area for traders to operate.
But now town hall chiefs have pledged to address those concerns, and they want stallholders to help shape the market’s future.
Traders are being invited to meet with council officials and share their ideas for improvements.
Among the possibilities already under consideration are:
* The replacement of the existing metal stalls with “something more attractive” – possibly a traditional wooden design.
* To supply traders with water and electricity.
* To install better and more energy-efficient lighting.
* To improve links toward St Hilda’s gardens and square.
In the past, there have also been calls for the area to be covered, to help trade during bad weather, but that has been dismissed because of the cost of doing so.
Coun Michael Clare, the council’s lead member for regeneration and economy, said: “The council is moving ahead with ambitious plans to make South Shields an exciting place to be, every day of the year, and transforming the market place is a key part of that vision.
“We have made real progress already, knocking down the eyesore Wouldhave House and selecting a leading developer to help us make the masterplan a reality.
“We are keen to work with the market traders and hear what sort of changes they think would help to strengthen the market and attract more customers.
“That might include things like supplying water and electricity to individual stalls, and replacing the existing metal stalls with something more attractive.”
The market place is a key part of the South Shields 365 vision, with the former Wouldhave House site set for a new central library and cultural centre as part of the blueprint.
The town’s market has been established since the 1700s, around the 18th-century old town hall.
Today it is held three times a week – Monday, Friday and Saturday.