Market trader slams changes

Mark Corfield at his outdoor martket stall
Mark Corfield at his outdoor martket stall

A MARKET trader says he will be forced to quit Hartlepool’s weekly sale because of changes agreed by council bosses.

Mark Corfield, who runs a second hand video, DVD and CD stall at Hartlepool market, hit out at the changes that mean traders will have to provide and put up their own stalls from April.

Currently, Hartlepool Borough Council, which manages the market, provides tables and employs staff who erect them.

But Mr Corfield says he and many other small traders will be forced out of business if they have to provide their own stalls.

He said: “If it is self-erecting, that’s the end of me.

“Stuart Drummond said he wanted to regenerate the market.

“But by doing this he is going to lose it.

“If the council had to go out and buy these stalls, I would appreciate that, but they already own them.

“It just doesn’t make any sense.”

Market charges are also set to go up by £3 from £22 to £25 a day.

Mr Corfield, from Billingham, said it would cost between £300-£500 for a sturdy stall and he would also have to shell out for a van big enough for it and his stock.

Hartlepool’s Wednesday flea market and Thursday’s general market were combined by the council last year in a move designed to improve footfall and security.

The location was also switched from adjacent to Victory Square to the open-air car park behind York Road.

Mr Corfield, 40, said the move appears to be working but fears the council’s decision not to provide stalls will lead to fewer traders and customers.

He said: “The market is picking up. It’s not fantastic, but it is bringing people into the centre.

“If there wasn’t a market, a lot of those people would not come.”

A council spokesman said: “Some stall-holders do prefer to provide their own market stall and we are currently consulting all stall-holders to determine how stalls are provided in the future.

“However, no decisions have yet been made.”