Calls for a second public consultation into Mansfield market

Mansfield Market Place.
Mansfield Market Place.

A new public consultation on Mansfield’s controversial market plans is being called for in a bid to find out exactly ‘what people want’.

The suggestion came during a meeting of the Mansfield District Council’s scrutiny committee, select commission two, which raised major concerns over the controversial £100,000 revamp proposals.

Councillor Stewart Rickersey from Mansfield District Council

Councillor Stewart Rickersey from Mansfield District Council

This includes reducing the market from six days to five and moving all stalls out of Westgate to Market Place.

Coun Stewart Rickersey, who devised the unpopular plans, was grilled during the meeting and forced to answer questions, many of which focussed on the public consultation carried out before the plans were devised.

From 4,426 public responses, only 717 were used with the rest ignored.

Coun Stewart Rickersey, portfolio holder for corporate services, claimed they were presented as a ‘Save Our Market’ campaign when there was never any intention of closing the market, and so were cast aside.

He said that to run another public consultation could cost more than £10,000.

But committee member, Coun John Kerr, said: “It seems to me ignoring the large majority of people is just not good enough.

“If you are going to make changes, you need to do it with the will of the people.

“Let’s do it again, let’s get it right and let’s find out what people want.”

Meanwhile, committee member Coun Sonya Ward was adamant the consultation papers should not have been ignored just because they came under a ‘Save Our Market’ banner.

She said: “If you run a campaign then you need something short and snappy, and it a real shame to underestimate the intelligence of Mansfield to say they were conned by three words.

“We trust them to vote, why did we not trust them complete this?”

Coun Ward said it as vitally important to ensure the changes did not threaten the livelihood of the traders and the market itself.

“Investing in the market is brilliant, but throwing money at it is an insult to the people who pay taxes and who work on the market,” she added.

“For people who have built up their business, this is not just a theoretical exercise, it would be a personal tragedy. It’s a mortgage payment or putting food on the table.”

The plans for radically changing the market were recently passed following a delegated decision by Coun Rickersey, but have been put on hold after six councillors called for it to be scrutinised by select commission two.

The group’s role is to ensure the decisions made are relevant, efficient and cost-effective.

It can suggest improvements or savings through their recommendations, although they are not binding.

The meeting on Wednesday evening, which was attended by several traders, became heated at times with committee member Coun Stuart Richardson even claiming Coun Rickersey was ‘intent’ on not accepting the consultation.

He added: “It’s quite clear he disregarded the consultation because it did not give him the answers he wants.”

But defending his position, Coun Rickersey said: “It’s about creating a market that is sustainable that will stand the test of time.

“There’s clearly differing views on what we need to do, we have to make changes to the market, that’s inevitable.

“It’s designed to make the market work better, to increase footfall.

“The journey will have some challenges along the way but the end game is that everybody wants to see Mansfield have a market that is diverse, and brings people in to this town.”

The meeting was adjourned until Tuesday evening, December 15, and the committee requested that Coun Rickersey is in attendance again.