Eric Ollerenshaw, Lancaster and Fleetwood's Conservative prospective parliamentary candidate, has backed the campaign to save Lancaster Market.
Proposals to close the Market and relocate stallholders elsewhere in the District will be discussed later today by Full Council. A major demonstration is expected to take place in protest, with campaigners marching to Morecambe Town Hall from Lancaster Market at 12.15pm.
"There is no escaping the Council’s present financial problems," Mr Ollerenshaw told virtual-lancaster, "and these have been underlined by the absurd terms of the lease they entered into 10 years ago for the Market Hall, when I believe it was a Labour-led Council.
"It now appears that this Liberal-led Council has managed to make a bad situation even worse and I fully respect Malcolm Thomas’s decision to resign and high light this absurd situation." (see news story).
Mr Ollerenshaw is also clearly concerned by the apparent secrecy surrounding some aspects of the Cabinet's proposals for the Market, which the Morecambe Visitor today reports include approaching new supermarket chain ASCO, which it also says understands has been offered a £400,000 'golden handshake' to take on the Market building.
The Green Party has also issued a press release naming the supermarket chain.
The Visitor has published a mock up image of how the Market might look, released by ASCO, effectively confirming their involvement which has, until now, apparently been considered "commercially sensitive". Council officers have been stringent in maintaining what they describe as the required confidentiality of discussions, but several claims about the deal have been circulating both locally and online.
"I am opposed to the market being closed and I am fully behind the Conservative group’s attempts to get all the facts about what has been going on into the open," says Mr. Ollerenshaw.
"At the same time, I support the Conservative Councillors’ move to get any decision delayed so we all have time to review the facts and also finally enable time for the market traders themselves to present their case regarding the future of this building and their livelihoods."
Mr Ollerenshaw, a tough no-nonsense campaigner, was selected by Lancaster and Fleetwood residents in an ‘Open Primary’ as their Conservative Prospective Parliamentary Candidate last year. A History teacher by profession, he taught the subject at several comprehensive schools for nearly thirty years.
• Two other prospective parliamentary candidates - the Greens Gina Dowding and Labour's Clive Grunshaw - also support keeping the Market in its current location and oppose closure. The Liberal Democrats prospective parliamentary candidate is Council leader Stuart Langhorn.