Is there hope for our markets?

Stall holders at Batley market. (D553E444)

Stall holders at Batley market. (D553E444)

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A future for Batley and Birstall’s markets is on the cards if talks between a contractor and Kirklees Council are successful.

The contractor, who does not want to be named at the moment, has said that negotiations with the council are “99 per cent” completed – and if they come off, the markets will continue as they are.

The only change would be that traders pay the contractor directly to put up and dismantle the stalls.

He said that he’d responded to a Kirklees Council advert looking for someone to take responsibility for the services before Christmas.

A formal application and interview followed.

Confirmation of the swap is expected to come, with more details, by the beginning of next week.

Batley Market trader Howard Bailey, of Eric Roberts Cut Meats, hopes the talks will succeed so that he, wife Janine and fellow traders can get back to business as usual.

“It would be a great relief,” he said. “It’s always there in the back of your mind.

“I don’t know how we’d carry on without it. It would affect us in a big way. We get regular people come out in all weathers. It would have a massive impact.

“I think I really would struggle. I’ve got stalls at Dewsbury and Heckmondwike, but every one’s not like it use to be. I want to keep Batley going.

“Imagine you work somewhere and you get a regular wage and they say ‘You’re not going to get paid anymore’.

“We are hanging on for some clarity and some proof.”

If the negotiations fell through, Howard said, “the next step for us would be to apply for a street licence. We need to trade.” Howard has been based at Batley Market for 38 years.

Batley councillor Gwen Lowe said: “It would be absolutely wonderful if support can be found. “If we can help them, we’ll be there. It is a lovely little market.”