MARKET traders in Worcester say they are in the dark over what will happen to them when a £550,000 revamp to restore the shopping parade gets underway next month.
Some of the 16 traders at Angel Place have also hit out at some of the negative comments made by readers on the Worcester News website about the look of the market and the quality of their goods. Some readers made comments saying the market was 'horrible' with 'sub standard' stalls while one described it as 'a scruffy dump' - prompting a robust defence from traders.
The regeneration work by Worcester City Council which also involves CrownGate owners the Crown Estate and Worcestershire County Council starts on Monday, September 1. It will take 10 weeks to complete, with the market reopening in time for the Christmas trading period but some of the traders are scratching their heads over where they will be based in the interim.
Existing market units will be ripped out and replaced by modern, moveable stands and the area will be repaved in stages to keep Angel Place open while a new market manager will also be appointed ready to start in December.
Carl Cusack, aged 39, a stall-holder at Carl's Fruit and Veg, said: "The council hasn't said anything and we're supposed to be moving in three weeks. We haven't been told where we're moving to or how many days we will be allowed to work. They said they would be keeping us informed. We just want to know what's happening. People are worried."
He criticised those who had made malicious comments on the Worcester News website about the quality of his stock, saying he gets his goods fresh from the wholesaler in Birmingham at 3am each day.
The father-of-two said: "If it was rubbish we would not serve any customers, we would have no regulars and we would have no money but we get small-minded idiots running us down. There are people here every day, trying to earn a living. It's our livelihood. We've all got mortgages and kids to feed."
A stall-holder from the phone stall, who wished to be known only as Helen, said the stall provided a point of contact for older people because the people on the stalls would have more time for them than in other shops.
Pat Perry, aged 59, of Worcester Luggage said he had spoken to a helpful man at Worcester City Council about the revamp but that he still did not have all the answers he needed. He said: "We have got to know where we're going and the size of the stalls. It's just the uncertainty - we need to know."
He said his stall takes three hours to set up and he works around 12 hours a day. He said: "This is my livelihood." In response to criticism from readers he said: "These are really good people and serious traders."
He suggested the council repaint the existing market units black and gold rather than rip them out. He said: "I would rather it stopped as it was." Stall-holder Paul Gardner known as "The Petman", aged 48, said: "This has character. If we have a permanent structure for in the city for a market we're a market town, not a clone town. My business keeps a roof over my head and over my elderly parents' heads. If this went we would be up the creek without a paddle."
A spokesman for Worcester City Council said a temporary home for the stalls in the interim could be agreed by this Wednesday while the refurbishment takes place. He said although Angel Place would remain the home of the market the moveable stalls would allow them to move to other locations such as the High Street.