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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 December 2005, 12:04 GMT
Old market hall could be sold off
Newtown Market Hall (pic: Powys Council)
Newtown Market Hall could close for three months
A loss-making, council-owned market hall which requires urgent repairs could be sold off to the private sector.

Newtown's Market Hall is losing traders and making annual losses of 10,000, say Powys Council.

The authority said timber beams also needed repairing which could force its closure for three months.

But one market trader said he would have to make job cuts if the Victorian building shut temporarily.

The council said a report about the future of the Grade II-listed building, built in 1870, and a structural survey had been commissioned. It added that no decision had been made about the market's future.

But butcher Trefor Davies, who has had a stall for 15 years and employs four staff, said: "To my knowledge, there's never been any mention made of closing the market for three months or selling it to the private sector.

To my knowledge, there's never been any mention made of closing the market for three months
Butcher Trefor Davies

"If the council wants to cut the losses why doesn't it open the market six days a week instead of the three-and-a-half it's currently open for?"

Mr Davies, who has been a butcher for 35 years, added: "I employ four staff and if I'm not trading I could not pay them."

Powys Council's head of transport and network management, Steve Burgess, said it was "likely" the hall would close for up to three months "to allow the repair work to be carried out safely".

He added: "The Montgomeryshire committee is committed to maintaining the market hall although given the maintenance costs and its on-going trading position there maybe a case for declaring the building surplus to requirements and selling it to the private sector.

"Early estimates show that some 90,000 will be needed to deal with the structural repairs, compensation for loss of income to traders and fees.

Mr Burgess said the hall operated at an annual loss despite efforts to increase stallholders and boost income.

He said the council intended carrying out repairs to the hall next year.



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