Local market traders in Stretford fear they’re being left behind by multi-million pound plans to transform the area.
The team behind Stretford Market, who has run once a month for the last seven years outside Stretford Mall, are concerned that all of their hard work could soon be undone.
Trafford council and developers Bruntwood have teamed up to revamp Stretford Mall and Stretford’s high street in a masterplan that will see millions pumped into the area to give space for new bars, restaurants and shops along the canal.
They have repeatedly talked publicly about the need for community involvement in the plans, held an extensive public consultation and emphasized their aim to bring existing traders along as part of the process.
They said that they will ‘of course’ support Stretford Market into the future and have worked with their team for some time.
But Spirit of the Essoldo, who direct the market, said Stretford Market is set to hold its final installation tomorrow (Saturday March 26).
Heather Garlick and Annika Edge, from Spirit of the Essoldo, said: “Saturday marks our last market in Stretford, after seven years of hard grafting, growing a large community of local makers and nurturing new traders to thrive in their craft and building confidence in their own business.
“We are very frustrated that hardly any effort has been made to retain us as a lease holder – despite the claims from Bruntwood and the Mall of wanting to support all current traders through the restructure of the Mall.
“Having worked with the Mall on various events and ventures since 2016, we feel under appreciated. On several occasions we have been asked to prove that we are not making too high profits from this venture (which we are not), although we evidently add to the success of the Mall and its internal tenants.
“The new masterplan includes an indoor market, which not once has been raised with us, leaving us to assume that we will not be part of the market, despite having put in so much hard work over the past years to build Stretford’s reputation as a popular market location.”
The market team said the council has offered them their usual space on the Mall car park for April and May this year, but did so at too short a notice for them to run the market as they would want to effectively.
The council said that they have given the directors a six-week rolling notice period for each month’s market and haven’t heard back from the market directors about this offer yet.
Spirit of the Essoldo fear that their work could be ‘taken over by a large business’ in future, without that business working with or crediting them and that there may be an element of gentrification going on with the plans.
They added: “Stretford Market was built with a passion for the community, from the community and it would be a great loss if it cannot be continued – for us as directors, our volunteers, our community and our 40+ vendors who rely on the trade from our monthly markets.”
The directors explained the market is driven by a passion for local food and crafts, reducing food miles and keeping the local economy going, as well as providing a space for the community to come together with free activities for all ages, and encouraging a sense of pride of place.
They said: “Our ethos has attracted some of the best vendors in the region, many of them commenting how our market is the friendliest they attend. The majority of our traders are local, and traders as well as customers show a high range of diversity – in terms of age, gender, ethnicity, disability and socio-economic background.”
The team added that they have enjoyed working with Stretford Mall in a ‘mutually beneficial’ way for years that has been seen footfall within the Mall increase on market days.
A spokesperson for Trafford council and developers Bruntwood said: “As the plans for the regeneration of Stretford Mall get underway, there are going to be changes to the availability of the surrounding area as development works progress. We have been working with Spirit of the Essoldo on the markets for some time, providing free space, stalls and gazebos, and we want to support the market for as long as possible.
“As such, in September 2021 we started conversations with SOE to discuss this. Due to the complexity of the scheme we are unable to provide an exact start date for the works, and are only able to offer the space on a more flexible basis. The site has been made available to SOE on a rolling six week notice period. As timelines have changed, we have offered the site in April and May.
“We are yet to hear back from SOE on this offer. In addition Trafford council has been working with SOE to try and find alternative locations within the town. Of course we will support local market traders and operators in the future.”