Market traders are split over plans for new stall canopies

The street market in Commercial Road, Portsmouth.
The street market in Commercial Road, Portsmouth.
Rae Bryden, manager at Joules in Gunwharf Quays, who was the Manager of the Year winner and was runner-up in the Fashion Store of the Year category at The News's Retail and Leisure Awards in 2016.  Picture: Sarah Standing (170883-5016)

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TRADERS are divided over a decision to spend thousands of pounds on new canopies to spruce up Portsmouth’s city centre market.

A budget of up to £50,000 has been approved by Portsmouth City Council to be spent on buying 50 new covers for stall owners.

They say it will make stalls at the market in Commercial Road look ‘more uniform’.

But some stallholders at the market, formerly held in Charlotte Street and still known as the Charlotte Street Market, think the money could be better spent elsewhere. Debbie Sharman, 45, owner of a handbag stall, said: ‘I won’t be able to lift the canopy because they are quite big and heavy.

‘I don’t know why we can’t all have matching sheets if they want the market to look good.’

And Peter Wroe, 54, who sells children’s clothes, said: ‘The canopies will not be as strong as the ones we use now and the council could be using the money elsewhere.

‘It’s not right considering the budget cuts that will be taking place.’

City centre manager Barry Walker said: ‘The idea is well-supported and the council have been proactive in protecting businesses. Over the past five years the canopies have deteriorated because of factors like the weather.

‘The city council has an improvement budget and some money was allocated to the canopies.

‘We held a meeting with market traders to see what would be the best option. We’re looking at pop-up canopies or French-style ones and we’re pretty positive we’re going to have one colour to give the market a good presentation. The price of buying the canopies will vary between £30,000 to £50,000 depending on the style and colour that we go for.’

Six companies are in the running to provide the canopies and over the next few weeks will be demonstrating their products to market traders.

Not all traders are against the plans. James Warren, 29, owns fruit and veg stall G.W Warren. He said: ‘They’re a good idea.

‘I know other people have used them, and if used correctly they are good at protecting you from the elements.’