Lancaster Market could shut by the end of the year, according to a report in the Lancaster Guardian today.
The paper reports that the council has agreed in principle to close the indoor market and lease it to a single retailer, a decision was made in light of the market's growing debts and one council leaders was not taken lightly.
The decision is subject to approval by full council at its final budget meeting on 3rd March. A Facebook campaign group has already launched protesting the plan.
Councillor John Whitelegg has condemned the planned closure.
In 2009/10, the market lost £461,000 and this is expected to rise to £492,000 in the next financial year. A retailer for the site has, according to various news reports, been found, but has not yet been named.
Market traders will be offered places on the city's outdoor Charter Market on Wednesday and Saturdays or at Morecambe's Festival Market, but BBC News reports that the 29 market stall holders want more than the basic compensation for the closure. The City Council has refused.
The decision comes as no surprise to many: after the devastating fire in the 1980s that put paid to the old Victorian market - at the time, underinsured by the then Conservative administration and therefore unable to be re-build it - the creation of a new Lancaster market was bedevilled by setbacks to plans for a major shopping development (itself a victim of the 1980s 'credit crunch'), relocation to the bus station and, finally, the move to a building many still describe as 'not fit for purpose'.
With a confusing layout and poor planning - opponents point to placing fishmongers on the south and sunniest side of the building, for example - Lancaster's current market has long been ridiculed and it always seemed ripe for takeover by a single retailer that would make more coherent use of the retail space.
Dennis Buczynski, owner of Gregory's butchers and a market committee member, told the Guardian traders were disappointed with their treatment by the council.
"We had a long-term commitment from them," he said. "This is people's livelihoods; there are more than 30 businesses here employing more than 100 people."
"The people that first did this deal should be brought to book," he added. "They should come to this market and come tell us how us traders are going to cope for the rest of our lives. Our livelihood is at stake."
"I'm really unhappy about the cabinet decision to close the market and I hope it will be challenged and over-turned in the next few weeks," says Green councillor John Whitelegg. "This all goes back to the disastrous decisions of local politicians in the 1980s to sell off a market that we owned and paid no rent, and exchanged this for a rental deal that costs us over £300,000 a year. This always was bonkers.
"Recent council decisions beggar belief," he added. "The decision to go with the Centros plan for the canal corridor (now thankfully defeated) would have led to the closure of many of our city centre shops. The decision to shut a traditional northern town market robs us of one of the special things that makes Lancaster such a wonderful place.
"The market should not be shut.What's now needed is a determined effort to find out how successful markets up and down the country operate and do everything possible to make it successful."
• Read the Lancaster' Guardian's report in full
• Lancaster Markets Official web site: www.lancastermarkets.co.uk
• Facebook Protest against the closure
• Read our 2003 article on the issues that faced Lancaster Market