great-homer-street-market
Screen Shot 2014-01-21 at 18.57.16Question: What do you call Great Homer Street Market when it’s not in Great Homer Street?

Answer: Another council-approved betrayal of Liverpool’s market traders. And another example of how the Council’s love-in with Geraud is killing what’s left of the city’s independent retail. Geraud – who are allowed to trade on the same Church Street pitches that our Council made off-limits to our own street traders.

This is a story of a council’s broken promises, a Cabinet Member (recently been promoted to be a Director of Geraud Markets Liverpool) who, despite ten years of under-investment, stall closures and job losses that have decimated the city’s market offer, still believes that Geraud Markets Liverpool is doing a great job. That the city’s markets are safe in their hands – and theirs alone.

“I don’t believe in competition,” the municipally-minded Councillor Kennedy told SevenStreets last year, “I believe we made the right decision partnering with Geraud.” This was shortly before telling us to ‘sod off’ and slamming the phone down.

When Project Jennifer – the Sainsbury’s-backed regeneration of the triangle of land between Great Homer Street and Scotland Road – was first announced, and prior to the city gaining a CPO to demolish the warren of workshops and buddleia-festooned lock-ups, market traders were told that, at the hub of the scheme (adjacent to the superstore) a stunning new market would rise (pic below).

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With space for 300 traders, the new ‘Greatie’ would be at the heart of a vibrant new Great Homer Street. It was this scheme that was passed by the Government, and that still sits in the Council’s planning offices (and online at developer, St Mowden’s suitably impressive fly-by video).

It was the right thing to do, on many counts. The traders have steadfastly stayed loyal to their community, and they’ve provided – against successive councils’ dithering – a real, vibrant market offer (admittedly down on its heel these days, thanks to Geraud). With the closure of Broadway, and Tuebrook sold to Tesco, Greatie is the last market standing outside of the sorry spectacle of St Johns.

“It’s clear that the renaissance that the city centre has enjoyed is now filtering out to the rest of the city,” said Mayor Anderson at the time. “The £150m Project Jennifer scheme will transform a 45-acre site in North Liverpool.”

Well yes, it will. But with the current U-turn on the project’s promises for a new dawn for the market, it might well transform things in the wrong direction.

photo 2Just before Christmas, with the project well underway, market traders learned that their new market isn’t to be at the hub of Project Jennifer at all – despite the fact that the artist’s impressions are still clear to see; raised on hoardings 20 feet high, all smiling shoppers, gleaming market hall and giant superstore in one big retail love-in.

Now, approved by Councillor Kennedy, the market is to be ⅓ of a mile’s drive away, in Dryden Street – an out of the way corner of land at the very furthest reaches of the scheme (pic below: the new market is slated to be housed in the smallest of the blue boxes where the ‘commercial units’ were to go). It couldn’t, in fact, be any further away from Sainsburys, and the project’s retail hub. And the initial promise of 300 stalls? That’s been slashed – with space for pitches (and pathways between them) squeezed to the bare minimum, and the outside traders’ pitchers cut down, in some cases, by three-quarters. So much for the Council’s commitment to our independent traders.

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Announcing the new location, Councillor Kennedy was – perhaps unsurprisingly – met with complaints and indignation from traders who felt betrayed, their views misrepresented (or simply ignored) and their future prospects anything but secure.

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Ⓒ Stephen Shakeshaft

The decision – to turf out the 180 year old market, in favour of a car park for chains like Costa Coffees, Wilcos and Boots – was taken without any consultation with the traders. Without any consideration that, with a huge new supermarket at one end of the development, the possibility of the relocated market benefitting from increased footfall at the other would be virtually non-existent.

Stall holders on the ‘west side’ – indoor stalls trading only on Saturday – were asked whether they’d move to Dryden Street. ‘What’s the alternative?’ they asked. ‘There isn’t one,’ Cllr Kennedy informed them.

“The traders said that if they were given the option to stay in the heart of the regeneration, or move to Dryden Street’, they’d chose Great Homer Street,” says outdoor (‘east side’) market traders’ representative, Billy Darwin.

Councillor Kennedy’s reasoned response?

“Well, when I was 12, my Dad told me that we had to move house, and I had no say in the matter, and I didn’t like that either.”

Faced with this fait accompli they agreed – and are scheduled to move in May. But it’s the full-time ‘east-side’ traders who are, unanimously, against the move. They, more than anyone, realise the gravity of the situation – and a petition has been handed to Cllr Kennedy, to be joined by a 500-strong-and-growing petition by local shopkeepers at today’s meeting between Council and traders.

“All we want is what we have always been promised,” Darwin tells SevenStreets, “and that’s to be at the heart of the new development. Our customers helping Sainsbury’s, and theirs supporting us. With 300 stalls trading every Saturday in the heart of the project, continuing to attract thousands of shoppers from across the region, rather than be shifted to a fenced off enclosure ten minutes’ walks away.

“We’ve always supported Project Jennifer, but the proposed shift beyond the boundaries of the new Great Homer Street development will cause great harm to our businesses, and seriously threaten one of Liverpool’s great traditions,” he says.

Now, if they don’t move site in May – Cllr Kennedy warns them that they’ll be ‘trading illegally’ on their current site, despite the fact that building work isn’t set to start here until next year.

Markets and street trading in the city is, in our opinion, at an all time low. In the past five years, we’ve turned the city around. We’re in the top five retail destinations, thanks to Liverpool ONE, and our visitor economy is booming. But, while other cities are realising the potential of their markets, ours have never looked more fragile.

When Joe Anderson, and Cllr Kennedy talk about their commitment to the independent traders, small businesses and the cultural champions that make our city the special place it is, remember Great Homer Street market. That two-centuries old retail success story, sold for the price of a car park and a Costa.

We’ve done ‘regeneration at any cost’ before – the city still has the scars. We need to encourage investment, but never at the cost of those who’ve kept this city functioning through the dark days. SevenStreets believes that Project Jennifer is a good thing – as do the market traders. With a vibrant market at its heart it will give the community what it needs, what it’s promised, and what North Liverpool deserves.

Want to have your say?

If you, like us, think that under Geraud, and Councillor Kennedy’s, stewardship, Liverpool’s market’s have suffered from under investment and a lack of vision, please let them know. You can say what you like, or you can cut and paste this simple letter, and CC us too please (info@sevenstreets.com)

Dear Councillor Kennedy –

I/We do not believe that it is right for the Council to go back on the promise it made to the market traders of Great Homer Street, and force them to relocate away from the heart of Project Jennifer. I support Liverpool’s independent traders, and believe a thriving market can boost the city’s economy when it needs it more than ever. Furthermore, I believe Great Homer Street’s market traders have earned the right to be at the centre of a regenerated Great Homer Street community, and any move away from that would seriously threaten their livelihood and the market’s future. I ask you to reconsider the proposal to relocate the market to the farthest reaches of the Project Jennifer scheme, away from its core retail offer.

Thank you.

Councillor Kennedy’s email is: malcolm.kennedy@liverpool.gov.uk

  • @odelayday

    Sent. Bow down and sell the soul…again

  • andy

    his official email address is malcolm.kennedy@liverpool.gov.uk

  • david_lloyd

    roger that

  • david_lloyd

    roger that. Ta

  • mark

    What’s the status with Tuebrook market then? This land has been sold to Tesco? I thought all of this was up in the air because of conservation issues with the nearby Orphanage in Newsham Park?

  • Lee

    Everybody knows Tuebrook is closing, the traders have been told the market is going to be replaced with a supermarket, some of the traders seeing a drawing with a Tesco Supermarket on it. The issues with Newsham Park is as we all know just delaying this process with the market and traders getting booted off for the mighty people with the big bucks. Good on the people of the area for fighting for what they believe in I for one would stand right next to them, but in the end Tesco are building there and everyone concerned with the market knows it, it may have been stalled before Christmas but they have it and their contractors have declined to comment :/ Traders stuffed again!!!

  • mark

    so have they officially bought the land?

  • Once bitten

    Why don’t people shop at markets as they used to? Times change. There was a time when if you wanted a bargain you went to one of those stalls but with the advent of primark, Home & Bargain, Poundland etc then people don’t need to go there. You will still get people who like the style of shopping but there are less every year. This isn’t helped by the fact that on the whole, the choice offered in these markets is poor ( three costume jewellery stalls on the inside of Greaty for example. You can get the same stuff in Accessorize for the same price if not cheaper.)

    And what stops the individual traders advertising? Nothing. Except they want everything done for them it seems. No other shops I know complain that their landlord isn’t doing their marketing. So what if it is included in their rent – advertise yourselves and then renegotiate. Don’t just sit there moaning.

    And what of the street traders on Church Street? I remember them well. They sold utter tat. Embarrassing for a city claiming to be seeking a renaissance for some of the ropey, worse-than-pound-shop tat to be on display. The temporary (note that they are temporary) seasonal markets and Christmas markets offer something different and an experience. They’re not for everyone admittedly. But they offer something different than what you can normally come across and bring an atmosphere that is not “wonder how shoddy that is”. Other cities offer seasonal markets. Only here would we have someone say “paella-sellers and bratwurst hawkers make an embarrassment of our streets”. You support markets but only the ones you want – not what the public in general want. You’re no different from the side of the debate you want to claim to be against.

    And I’ll declare my preference. I would take a paella seller in our city centre ahead of someone hawking football t-shirts showing a cartoon fan urinating on another team’s shirt any day. Call me snobbish if you must.

    Markets can be great but in Liverpool our traders appear to be a petty bunch dominated by certain “characters” who would never be happy no matter what was given to them. Let’s not be fooled into thinking that providing more spaces or modern facilities would somehow create the souks of Morocco. We’d just get more tat. Traders have proved it time and again. And stop making them out to be some benign city-loving honest characters. They are as avaricious a business as Tesco. What happens when a young startup wants to sell something different at their markets? They close ranks and start complaining about the competition “she can’t sell them, I sell them”.

    You can point to other cities doing it well but they are an exception not the norm. Maybe that is a failing of the city, but it is of the city as a whole – shoppers and traders, administrators and media and so on – and not just an admittedly lame market operator or one politician alone.

  • gina shaw

    Liverpool soon to be renamed Tescopool,you herad it here first!

  • craig

    They sell tat its the times get with it did ypu complain about the demise of horse and cart aswell?

  • asenseofplace

    People shop at markets all over this country and most others. Maybe the big trans-national corporates would prefer that we didn’t but that’s tough, they have no automatic right to control where and how we shop, hard though they may try.

    Also, markets are about more than shopping. They’re a gathering place, they’re that ‘culture’ thing actually happening, like a party out on the street. And again, some people don’t seem to like us all getting together and enjoying ourselves unless it’s all highly regulated. Poor frightened little souls.

    Well, I think if Project Jennifer goes ahead without a market on Great Homer Street itself as an integral part of it, then the Project will have already failed. This is Liverpool. Liverpool has a street market on Greatie. A great rambling beast of a street market at that. Long may it continue.

  • Andrew Ellis

    Right on, man, let’s blow up the Three Graces because they’re old and replace them with a VIP nightclub, get with the times!

  • Computer Commuter

    Disappointing though it is to see another major supermarket spring up (don’t we have enough already?), developments like this simply wouldn’t happen without these kinds of retailers. I’m inclined to think that despite the less than ideal changes to the size and positioning of the market (which in itself is not ideal in its current form, no matter how established it is), Project Jennifer will leave the area in a better state than it was before, and I’m pleased to see it happening.

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  • Tristan Brady-Jacobs

    Its all ‘tat’ – whether its wilco tat or primark tat, its just that this ‘tat’ comes with conversation and wit. This tat represents local investment and promotes community, this ‘tat’ is what Liverpool has always held up as its strength and as we sell out our communities and our small businesses in favour of these global carpetbaggers it won’t be long before we lose that quality that I for one prize in this city – character.

  • Tristan Brady-Jacobs

    The winter market WAS a disgrace. Not cos of the paella or bratwurst, but unlike the ones in almost every other city ours was dominated by tat – the stalls werent ‘bavarian’ and nor were the products sold! Manchesters created a vibe, a sense of ‘event’ which felt both special and wintery. Ours were just dull brown sheds full of people selling fake boobs-jobs and, as you said ‘tat’. Now I do think we need to rethink the markets in this city and there are some great initiatives around the centre but they get regularly crushed by Geraud and their thug-councillors. We compare ourselves to continental cities but act like the grimmest small-town. I want variety – not the same as everyone else. I want the kind of culture that this city had and sold for a pfennig!

  • Computer Commuter

    The Winter Market wasn’t bad at all, but it could be a lot better – and it would be nice to have a little more variety, too, rather than the same old things each time. Manchester’s was great, and Liverpool could learn a few lessons from that.

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  • IanArrow

    I am intrigued as there has been such a lot of negative comments/opinions regarding this development and yet I feel a lot of them have come from Liverpudlians who do not live in the area, did they see the area when the market was not on? Apart from a Saturday morning the rest of the week meant a handful of barely open shops with barely any shoppers! The area was dead 95% of the time. I appreciate the treatment of the market (and stall owners) should have been better and having to remove a small of the park is frustrating but I feel that we need to give this development a chance before writing it off! I hear constantly that it is a development taken an eternity to actually start, but it has now, the diggers are here on an almost daily basis and for long hours with most of the main site area now flattened. I have lived literally a 100 yards from the development for 11 years, I for one am firmly behind the change….whether it is destined for history to repeat itself is another thing! I do have my doubts also mind and hope that the area is easier (and enticing) for people outside the area to visit as I think that will be a key goal for it to succeed! I also hope the maintenance/development of the shops and park will continue once initially finished as I feel that was the downfall the last there was a new precinct! I’m happy there is still a market but I also feel as others have mentioned that it needed to change as for me it was expensive and for me did not hold the “presence” of other markets I have visited. Surely a market is more than a meeting place as others seem to think it is. Just my opinion folks…