Our Estates team says it regrets having to close the Cattle and Wholesale markets but the Council was boxed into a corner by central government cuts and strong urgings from government on where to concentrate its financial focus.

As the clock countdown to the closure of the facilities in the New Year starts, John Sadler, Strategic Asset Manager said the Council wished it could have been kept open.

“The markets have been steadily declining in profitability to the point which the Council can no longer afford to carry the cost. We tried by asking tenants to put together a proposal to keep it open and an offer was submitted by a consortium comprising a range of tenants and we even had talks with the National Farmers Union in the initial stages but sadly the proposal was not viable.”

Painful farewell

One of those affected is the Sharp family who are market gardeners at Melbourne, South Derbyshire.

“It’s incredibly sad for the family – our way of life, our family’s traditional trade with our customers, will be taken away from us,” said Martin Sharp who together with his wife Sandra, father Bill and brother Colin, produces vegetables, cut flowers and pot and bedding plants on the family’s 32-acre holding and sells his produce at the wholesale market at Derby three mornings a week.

“My father stood on the wholesale market for 55 years from when he was 14, retiring just a couple of years ago, and his uncle and grandfather before him, so four generations of our family have sold fruit, flowers, vegetables and plants from a Derby market stall to the shops, nurseries, cafés and pubs in and around the city. Many thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of people in the area will have eaten our vegetables, planted our plants and enjoyed our cut flowers. They won’t be able to do that anymore,” he added.

Constrained by government

John said the pain is felt not only for the Sharp’s family but for every trader who has used the markets over the decades.

“Change is not easy and our heart goes out to the Sharp’s family for whom this Wholesale Market has been a traditional way of life for four generations.

“If the Council could, the market would have been kept open so that the Sharp’s family and others could continue their generations-long tradition.

“However, the Council face financial pressures with extraordinary cuts from central government with directives for councils to focus finances on statutory responsibilities such as services for the elderly and child protection. We have to respond to and operate within these constraints.

“In every area in which we have had to cut finances we faced similar stories and protests but the reality is that the Wholesale Market is no longer financially viable and we just cannot afford to keep it open.”

Open-market sale

Our Estates team said that it did receive an offer that fell outside of the scope of the Lease and Operate arrangement. It was an offer to purchase the property which could not be considered.

“It would be unfair to others who may have had an interest in the property and had we entertained it and sold it on a private basis it could have opened the Council to legal challenges,” added John.

Though no definite date has been set for the closure of the Wholesale Market, we do anticipate this will be sometime in the New Year.