“USE it or lose it” - that’s the message from city councillor Des Cahill to the Coal Quay traders after a row erupted over the location and use of stalls on Cornmarket Street.
At a recent City Council meeting Mr Cahill referred to the traders’ stalls as ‘horrible boxes’ and expressed a desire to move them, which drew fury from some traders and their families.
Kathleen Hyde said stallholders like her they have been part of the fabric of the city since the 1800s.
“Five generations of our family sold outside the Bodega, we have seen it change from a factory making stockings to what is here today,” she told the Evening Echo. “I am nearly 70 years here and we cannot be moved.”
Emmanuel Murray, whose family have pitches on the street, said the comments were unfair, given that the new stalls were put in place by the council.
“I agree they aren’t aesthetically pleasing but we had no choice,” he said. “We had our own stalls many years ago, they were taken away and these were imposed upon us.”
He believes Mr Cahill and others want to get rid of the traders altogether, but the councillor insists that is not the case.
“I am not saying shut them all down,” he said. “But they have to use them. If they aren’t using them leave other people use them on the days that they aren’t. You can’t hold an asset if there are other people who could and would use it.”
Ms Hyde rejects any comment on the hours the stalls are in use.
“Anyone can be sick and suffer deaths in the family,” she said. “I don’t have any right to tell anyone else when they should work, so why should I be told.
“Since I was six years of age I have been selling on that stall. I took over from my mother and I don’t see why we have to answer to anyone about when we work.”
Mr Cahill’s preference is to move the stalls down toward the Bridewell, where the food market is held at weekends, freeing up the street for an open plaza. “We should transform the area into an open area with European-style seating, make it a more attractive area which will benefit the market, businesses and that whole end of the city.”
Bodega owner Benny McCabe insists he is keen to support trade in the area but would also like the current boxes moved.
“I have had a load of stalls put in front of my door, I was never consulted on it,” he said. “They obscure the building and I have asked for them to be spread apart, that is it.”
“There are hundreds of small food producers and others who want to use market stalls and can’t get a pitch. I do believe the bye-laws should be changed to allow the traders sublet the stalls they are not using. We want to see casual trading from the Roundy to the Bridewell, the street could be rocking.”