Many have expressed dismay at the abrupt eviction of the market traders from their traditional site in the Britten Centre. That it took place over Christmas with no reasons given and with only a month’s notice has made things near impossible for the ousted traders.
The ”suggestions” for alternative sites, for example the Triangle market area (little footfall) and the railway station (development plans some way in the future) were not credible. The shops in the Britten Centre come with rents running into the tens of thousands of pounds, way out of reach of market traders.
Given the number of bodies that are now apparently responsible for the well-being of the town, not only Waveney District Council (WDC), but Lowestoft Vision (a Chamber of Commerce body) and the recent arrival Lowestoft Rising (nobody knows where they came from) it is shameful that no-one intervened. The traders at least should have had adequate notice and consultation about alternatives. One, or all, of these bodies should have stepped in and demanded fair treatment. Instead we have the loss of another amenity and the loss of livelihoods.
Perhaps it isn’t surprising that WDC remained silent. It appears that they had a significant role in making the eviction possible. WDC used to hold the leasehold on the area where the stal holders traded. After a company called Wayshop 2 (Lowestoft) Limited (registered in Jersey) bought the Britten Centre (ie the arcade and shops) WDC surrendered their lease to the new owners, presumably for cash. According to the stallholders, WDC had already changed their leases to remove previous safeguards. In fact their current, worthless, lease was not due to run out until March. The way was open for the eviction to take place.
There is another twist to the story. The market was created and paid for under the Waveney Sunrise Scheme which ran from 2003 to 2008. Stallholders understand that conditions were attached. They believe that dismantling the market has breached those conditions.
The Tory administration of Waveney District Council has questions to answer. Lowestoft Coalition Against the Cuts will be asking those questions.