MARKET traders in Carlisle’s Victorian covered market have announced plans to set up a traders’ association. 

Carlisle’s covered market is a collection of retail stalls including a haberdashers, jewellers and world food stall - but the closure of Wilko had caused concern for the long term future for the market hall.

The announcement of the traders' association comes as new traders are moving into the market ahead of Christmas, something Geoff Bacon, who runs ‘Hola Churros’, believes is a real opportunity to promote what the market has to offer.

“The market hall has massive untapped potential, and one of the things the traders' association will be looking at is how to promote what is already on offer here," said Mr Bacon.

"We’re also keen to spread the word about what a great location this is for new start-ups and counter some of the baseless rumours that we hear about the market.

"We held a meeting last week with council officers and the local ward councillor, Anne Glendinning, to discuss how we can work along with them and with the current leaseholder and their managing agent.

"It was great to hear that Cumberland share our ambition for Carlisle market to develop and thrive as we know markets are doing elsewhere in the country.”

The meeting with the traders and the council was arranged with Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Carlisle, Julie Minns, who said she has been working with the traders since August.

“The market is held in great affection by hundreds of people in and around our city and whilst retail habits have changed, the potential for our market remains huge," she said.

"That’s why I’ve been working with the traders, they’re the people who know what works and what doesn’t in our market, and I think the establishment of the traders' association is really going to help.”

The covered market first opened in 1889 and was extended ten years later. Altered in 1989 to create two large retail units alongside the market hall stalls, the market itself is currently operated by Ryden Property Agents on behalf of the leaseholder BAE Systems Pension Fund.

In 2021 the Government allocated £3million towards the market hall as part of Carlisle’s Town Deal.

Although the market hall project was shelved in March this year, and the money was allocated to other Town Deal projects, officers from the council’s economic development team said at the time that there would be the potential to apply for further funding in Round 3 of the Government’s Levelling Up Fund, with the completed business case being 'shovel ready' by that point.

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Speaking in the House of Commons on October 16, Secretary of State, Michael Gove announced that Levelling Up Fund Round 3 would open for bids ahead of the Autumn Statement, which is scheduled for November 22.

Commenting on the prospect of a bid, Geoff Bacon said, “One of the first things we will do as the traders association is to seek a meeting with the economic development team to understand how the market hall business case has progressed in the last eight months.

"Having already lost funding, it’s vital the market hall is Carlisle’s priority bid for what is likely to be the last round of the Levelling-Up Fund.”