Fears over ‘stall wars’ at Mexborough market

Mexborough’s market traders have claimed a new council scheme aimed at filling empty stalls could actually put small holdings out of business.

Doncaster Council swept away the ‘anti-competition’ custom in the market last week in the hope of boosting trade in the town.

Phil Toone, Market Trader.

Phil Toone, Market Trader.

The informal practise prevented new traders from taking space close to existing ones selling similar items.

But the new commodities guidelines means anyone wanting space in the market should now be accommodated wherever possible.

While market bosses believe this could lead to the creation of new jobs, Mexborough’s indoor market traders were more cautious about the move this week.

Pet food supplier Phil Toone, 60, of Barnsley, said: “I think in a larger market like Doncaster it would be okay because there is a large footfall there, but in Mexborough there is not the footfall to sustain it.

“You would just get two businesses taking trade off each other.”

Butcher Steve Ryalls, 54, of West Melton, and assistant Julia Thompson, 51, of Wath, were also sceptical of the scheme.

Steve said: “At least they are trying to do something but I would be surprised if it has any effect. The market needs more promotion.”

Julia added: “The problem is new businesses set up and then sometimes they close within a month. We need to get more people using the market.”

Florist Beverley Taylor, 48, of Darfield, said: “Mexborough market isn’t big enough for it to work I don’t think. If you have one shop selling one thing and then open up another selling the same next door then it will halve the trade for both.”

Linda Mann, 56, of Wombwell, a shop assistant at Teresa’s Haberdashery, said: “I can see why the council is doing it but I would be surprised if there is a big take up.”

Chris Chantler, 57, of Hemingfield, who recently opened his Alien Technology computer shop, said: “One of the reasons I opened here was because no-one else could open something similar next door so I am sad to see the council has got rid of the ruling.”

However, markets bosses estimate the change of rules may create up to 30 jobs.

They say even if the new approach only allows an additional 20 businesses - who would have previously been turned away to take space on the markets - it could mean as much as an extra £70,000 income per year for the markets.

Councillor Bob Johnson, cabinet member for regeneration and growth at Doncaster Council, said: “While more competition may initially be seen as another challenge, a market with no empty stalls will inevitably be a busier market, boosting trade for all.”

A Doncaster Council spokesman added: “The whole purpose of the improvement works and the update of the markets guidelines is to attract more people and business thus increase the footfall and we must have a uniform policy for all council-run markets across the borough.”