Accrington Food Hall plan scrapped after proving 'unpopular with traders and residents'

Proposals for a dedicated new ‘Food Court’ in the redeveloped Accrington Market Hall have been scrapped by hyndburn-council>Hyndburn Council’s new Labour bosses.

Its leader Cllr Munsif Dad said the scheme, a key part of the previous Conservative administration’s £11 million blueprint to transform the Grade II listed building, had proved unpopular with traders and residents.

He also announced at his first cabinet meeting in charge on Tuesday that a proposed soft play area would be dropped, but stressed after the meeting that existing market hall food outlets would continue in the upgrading of the retail hub using government Levelling Up grants.

Cllr Dad also promised a review of the controversial £30 charge for pest control treatments for rodents in domestic premises - dubbed the ‘rat tax’ – introduced in November 2022.

The new Labour administration promised to bring in ‘Skip Days’ in every ward and township to help residents dispose of rubbish and deter fly-tipping and to commission an urgent report on the future of the currently closed Oswaldtwistle Civic Theatre.


Cllr Dad opened the cabinet meeting by saying: “We are making changes to the Market Hall to focus exclusively on its retail offerings. We will work with the operator to deliver this.

“This means no more food courts or soft play areas. Our residents have spoken and we have listened.

“We are committed to improving the cleanliness of our streets. To achieve this, we are looking into the introduction of ‘Skip Days’ which will encourage our residents to take pride in their communities.

“Additionally, the Conservative ‘Rat Tax’ is under review. We are meeting with our pest control teams to determine the best way to make this policy work effectively for our residents.

“Regarding the concerns of Oswaldtwistle residents about the Civic Theatre, we will be bringing a detailed report to Cabinet immediately to address he situation and provide clarity.”

After the meeting Cllr Dad said: “The Market Hall will be on the same footprint with some food offerings like previously but firmly focused on the traditional market hall offering as residents have requested, but a departure from the previous concept of a food court offering under the previous administration.”

Borough deputy leader and finance boss Cllr Noordad Aziz also gave details of how he proposed to use £985,000 underspend from 2023/24. There will be £190,000 to develop the Local Plan and help clear the backlog of planning applications; £500,000 should the council need to identify and develop a new waste transfer station; £50,000 for mercury abatement works at Accrington Crematorium; £100,000 into the Climate Change Reserve; and £145,000 transferred into the Invest to Save reserve.

Conservative group leader Cllr Zak Khan said after the meeting: “”This Market Hall announcement is a trick of words.

“After the meeting the leader had to rail back on his comments when council staff quietly reminded him that food was still on the menu in the Market Hall.

“We had Cllr Aziz defending the healthy surplus in the council’s budget, only weeks after misleading residents into thinking the council was in a financial black hole.

“They are spending that surplus on introducing skip days – something they couldn’t cost in February.

“We introduced small pest control fees so only those that use the service need to pay rather than charging all residents.

“The Labour cabinet used its first meeting to announce little except a continuation of the investment into the Market Hall and Civic Theatre we had already set in motion.”