Wetherby market traders’ concern over parking in town

Wetherby Market Place. 0308061f.
Wetherby Market Place. 0308061f.

Market traders say they may have to stop coming to Wetherby once the Hallfield Lane lorry park is taken over for free parking from April.

Plans to add 144 spaces to the lorry park could be put into action in less than two months, and some traders driving large vehicles say they will then have nowhere else to go.

This, in turn, has caused concern over the future of the market - an essential part of Wetherby’s identity as an historic market town.

Stall holder Paul Johnston, 59, and his family have been trading at Wetherby market for more than 50 years. He brings cakes, biscuits, and sweets to the town in a 7.5 tonne wagon every Thursday.

He said: “I definitely won’t be able to come to Wetherby without somewhere to park because of the size of the wagon I have got, so when work starts I have got nowhere to go. I might as well just not turn up.

“We have been coming that long we have regular customers and I wouldn’t like to let them down just for the sake of a car parking spot.

“There are one or two traders with cars that can go on the Wilderness Car Park, but I won’t be able to do that and I am concerned, not just for myself but for everybody else.

“There should be more than just once place for us to park. Hallfield Lane is just ideal for everybody and we are going to be without that.”

Mr Johnston also trades in Knaresborough and Otley where there is free parking provision for market traders.

“The situation in Wetherby is that, if Hallfield Lane shuts there will be nowhere and that would be devastating,” he said.

Leeds City Council (LCC) owns the lorry park but Morrisons’ plans to add 144 free car spaces were passed in 2012.

The proposals are part of a 10,000sq ft extension of the Horsefair Centre-based store.

Though cars will no longer have to pay to park, lorries, which currently park for £5.50 a night, will no longer be permitted to use the site.

As a result, doubt over provision for market traders is causing widespread unease.

Wetherby Business Association vice-chair Denise Podlewska said: “I am not sure where it is going to go, but we have got to do something to keep the market there because we can’t be a market town if we haven’t got a market.

“We have to protect it, because the whole town would be up in arms if it wasn’t there.

“I have lived in Wetherby for nearly 30 years and there has always been a market and I can’t imagine there not being one. The market has got to be kept and it has got to be looked at - there has to be some provision there for the traders.”

The Mayor of Wetherby Coun Harry Chapman said: “The market is very important to us.

“We were granted a charter in 1240 and we wish to keep it, and anything to stop that happening we would be against.”

Wetherby Coun Gerald Wilkinson (Con) met with the lorry park leaseholder and councillors to discuss long-stay parking in Wetherby, including provision for market traders, this week.

After the meeting he said: “We have discussed it thoroughly and Coun John Procter and I will take this to LCC.

“It is imperative that we find a satisfactory solution so the market traders have somewhere to park on a Thursday.

“We are quite confident we will be able to achieve that and we are trying to arrange a meeting with relevant parties as early as next week.”

The plans for the lorry park to provide free parking is part of an overall strategy, currently in the works at LCC, for more parking in Wetherby.

An LCC spokesman said: “Hallfield Lane car park is to be fully redeveloped to provide a new council-owned public town centre car park for visitors and shoppers.

“Town planning matters are being finalised with a view to commencing works on site in early April 2015. Work is expected to take about 16 weeks.”

Morrisons did not provide a comment.