£250k upgrades to Clitheroe Market given the green light

Clitheroe Market in spring 2024
-Credit: (Image: LDRS)

An upgrade of Clitheroe Market, costing £250,000 and using government cash, has been backed by Ribble Valley councillors.

But improvement work should be done as quickly as possible, councillors have urged, to keep any disruption to market businesses to a minimum. Some councillors have also called for further market investment in the future to make Clitheroe Market the area's 'jewel in the crown'.

Market place surfacing materials and the appearance of stalls there has been debated. Separately, Clitheroe is currently seeing road and pavement improvements in the town centre's Castle Street area by Lancashire County Council and Ribble Valley Council.

The proposed market upgrade is a Ribble Valley project linked to government cash from the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, which has to be spent by next year. The market is one of a number of projects earmarked for funding, Progress was discussed at the latest borough Policy & Finance Committee meeting.

Council officer Nicola Hopkins said a range of market work was proposed including improving the surfaces of the bullring area, lighting, roofing, public toilets and other elements. Councillors had previously formally agreed that improvements are needed.

There has also been some discussion about stone setts and the use of a resin material. Councillors now had to decide what materials are to be used in different parts. Suggestions were for an outer ring of stone, a middle ring using resin and an inner area of stone in the market's bullring area. And the budget for the market upgrade had been raised from £100,000 to £250,000.

Some areas of existing surfacing have been impacted by regular vehicle access, Ms Hopkins added. The surface was not designed for routine vehicle access even though some traders used vehicles to deliver stock.

'Disruption concerns'

Conservative Coun Mark Hindle said: "I've been speaking to traders who are very concerned about the time this work might take, especially the bullring area which has an important fruit and veg stall. Traders asked for the work to be done as quickly as possible, even if that means the project being more expensive. They said anything lasting longer than three or four weeks would threaten the viability of their businesses. "

Council chief executive Marshal Scott said: "Disruption is one of the issues we are looking at. We can have a really quick scheme and close the market or take a bit longer but disruption should be minimised. We are doing a lot to allow stallholders to keep trading there with little impact."

Conservative Coun Stephen Atkinson asked: "Will work be done on non-market days?" Ms Hopkins said: "That's the plan but I think there might be some impact on market day."

Then Coun Hindle highlighted construction projects elsewhere which he understood were done in short periods . He said: "I was speaking to someone about a concrete scheme which was complicated but done in two weeks. That type of approach might cost more money but will minimise the impact. There is a trade-off."

Lib-Diem Coun Simon O-Rourke said: "We have discussed timings before and 90 per cent of market traders said they did not want to close. It would crucify them. I thought it was agreed to do do this as an ongoing project?"

'New stalls needed'

Independent Coun David Birtwhistle said: "I have some reservations about the market. I agree we should do some work but I think we should have new stalls and make it look pretty. There are good fabricators in the area who could make new stalls. I'd like us to commit to surfacing work but then look at the stalls. We should make the market the jewel in the crown. Clitheroe is a market town and it should look fantastic."

Green Party Coun Malcolm Peplow said: "I welcome all the effort on this project. Regarding the setts, I support keeping them. They are intrinsic to the appearance of the town. If we threw them out, we might as well have a mall rather than a market."

He also said a consistent approach was needed for vehicle access.

On the men's toilets, he said: "Regarding services that this council provides, I understand the toilets were not cleaned for a period of time? If there was a gap, how big was it? Public toilets are essential for public health and attracting people to the market."

Officers said a toilet cleaner had been off work. But extra help had been found and the toilets were being checked.

Coun Hindle added: "This is really welcome investment. It should be welcomed by traders and will draw people into Clitheroe. But I'd like to see more investment in future. This should be the beginning."

Labour's Michael Graveston said: "I'm glad the Burneys fruit and veg stall concerns will be addressed and that they have been involved in discussions."

Conservative Simon Hoare greed with comments about keeping the setts and cleaning the toilets. He added: "The market is not well sign-posted in Clitheroe. Visitors can go along King Street and not realise the market is nearby."

Councillors supported officers' current recommendations for the market upgrades. Other investment ideas may be considered in future.