Indoor market business plan backed

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PLANS to encourage new businesses into an indoor market have been given the go-ahead.

Hartlepool Borough Council is working with Middleton Grange Shopping Centre to breathe new life into the indoor market by offering a package of support to six new businesses.

The aim is to use six empty market stalls for businesses to try their ideas before committing to a career in retail.

The Indoor Market Project will see shopping centre bosses waive the rent, service charges and insurance charges for the stalls for six months.

Hartlepool Mayor Stuart Drummond agreed the plans at a meeting of his regeneration and neighbourhoods portfolio.

In a bid to revamp the fortunes of empty town centre units, the town was awarded £100,000 through the High Street Innovation Fund and this will be used for the market project.

Mayor Drummond approved £20,000 from the High Street Innovation Fund for the Indoor Market Project and £5,000 towards improving signage advertising the town centre car parks to encourage more visitors.

Damien Wilson, assistant director (regeneration and planning), said the support will consist of a pre-trading retail training programme covering customer care, how to sell and online training.

It is planned to start the project this month so that businesses can be established before the busy Christmas period.

Staff at Hartlepool Enterprise Centre will identify eligible people to support.

A working group has come up with the plans and staff are also working on plans to hold specialist markets such as farmers markets, craft, food and continental markets to add “vibrancy” to the town centre.