|Councillor Roger Mace|
Councillor Mace, who is opposed to plans to move the Market to the City Museum building agreed by Cabinet, says he was prevented from presenting an amendment to the motion on the Market in a debate at yesterday's City Council meeting by use of a little known procedural device.
The motion, which had been placed on the agenda by the Conservatives expressed the need for action to reduce the costs of the indoor market based in the Market building.
The blocked amendment would have added the words "This Council therefore welcomes the fact that alternative locations for the Lancaster Market are under consideration but does not consider that relocating market tenants into the Lancaster City Museum building is an idea worthy of investigation at the present time."
"Someone somewhere must have been afraid of what might be said during the debate" says Councillor Mace, "or it would not have been curtailed before it had even started."
"My intention was to draw attention to the misunderstandings surrounding the Cabinet's recent decision to investigate moving the traders into the City Museum building, and test council opinion accordingly."
|An image from a report suggesting changes to the current market|
to make it more appealing to shoppers
This should come as no real surprize, of course: when the proposal was first raised last month, Green Party Cabinet member Jon Barry told virtual-lancaster the overall plan included the possibility of the Museum being moved from its current location entirely, perhaps to the Castle's Shire Hall, as the courts held there are seeking new premises (see news story)
The Cabinet decision to consider moving the market has already met with strong reactions. One letter in the Lancaster Guardian states "It must rank as the most stupid idea since Mr Blobby moved into Happy Mount Park" and goes on to say "an extension to such a beautiful Grade 2 listed building into New Street could be viewed as corporate vandalism and would surely have the Civic Society and English Heritage up in arms."
"Thinking the suggested move is to the ground floor of the City Museum - threatening only the exhibition space - has been enough for one commentator to brand the proposal as the closest thing to crazy," says Councillor Mace.
"The misunderstanding that cabinet's decision to undertake further investigations into the conversion of the City Museum to accommodate Lancaster Market referred only to the ground floor of the museum building should have been exposed and refuted before now."
Earlier in the same meeting, Councillor Mace had been "guillotined" in mid criticism of the City Council's budget.
Councillor Mace has strong views on the Market's future and although he considers the costs of the current building mean it must be moved, other possible locations present their own difficulties. Responding to a suggestion that it might be moved to the Ashton Hall in Lancaster Town Hall, for example, he told virtual-lancaster it was popular for wedding receptions, "so that helps make it problematic as a new location for the market.
"I remember the relative success of the market when it was at the temporary building near the current bus station," says Roger, "so this prompts me to suggest looking at some new-build location within the revised thinking for the Centros development.
"It would be an opportunity to reduce the space allocated to the market: space which is empty and unlet to tenants at the present time.
"There are other possible palliatives to the City's financial burden from the Market Building, but unfortunately, the hard truth is that a move of the Market Tenants to a new location will only achieve the objective of reducing the annual costs to the Council of the Market building if an alternative use or user for the Market building becomes available to follow any permanent move by the Market Tenants to different premises."