Market is on the move to Co-op car park site

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LARNE’S Wednesday Market is to be temporarily relocated to the Co-op car park at Circular Road while redevelopment of the Market Yard site is underway, it has been revealed.

As previously reported, a contractor has been appointed to carry out long-awaited regeneration work, more than a decade after it was first mooted.

Mascott Construction Ltd is seeking to take possession of the site on Monday to start their 52 week contract, meaning traders will have to operate elsewhere.

And Co-op has confirmed its car park is available as an alternative venue for the Wednesday Market, starting next week. The supermarket feels the relocation will bring mutual benefits to themselves, market traders, customers and Larne Council.

However, as the local authority does not currently own any appropriate transportable or covered stalls to erect and dismantle, market traders will be asked to provide their own stalls or trade from their vans. This means that charges for a pitch at the market (equal to four car parking spaces) will be reduced to £10.

Town Centre manager Hazel Bell told councillors at Monday’s meeting of Larne Borough Council that the local authority would have a member of staff present at the market to cone off that section of the car park from the general public. They will also ensure the car park is tidied up after each market day.

Alderman Roy Beggs proposed that the council formally acknowledge and thank the Co-op for facilitating the market, and Ald Jack McKee said it was “great to see” the Market Yard redevelopment being progressed.

However, Cllr Winston Fulton felt the Wednesday Market would have been better sited in the town centre to provide a boost to other traders.

“There are markets in other town centres such as Carrick, Cookstown and Magherafelt, so why not in Larne?” he added. “The Co-op is even further away from the town centre than the Market Yard, so it is farther to walk and more roads to cross.”

Mrs Bell said the Department for Social Development has confirmed that the legislation on the use of their car parks excludes any form of trading, so there are no opportunities for relocation to other car parks.

The Wednesday Market will continue to operate at the existing hours of 7am – 2pm.