Surrey Street Market is to re-open next Monday, June 5, stall-holders and shop-keepers have been told by Croydon Council.
London’s oldest street market was shut down at the end of March for what was supposed to be a 10-week road resurfacing project, costing £1.1million. The works, undertaken by the council’s default road contractors, Kier, have only over-run slightly, and traders were notified last week of the return of the stalls. A re-opening street party is also planned for June 17.
During the closure, some shops reported trading down by as much as 60 per cent, as without the fruit and veg stalls present, customers were shopping elsewhere.
Surrey Street has been steadily losing regular stall-holders in recent times, down from nearly 100 at the start of this decade to barely half that recently. Fewer than two dozen stalls, those holding a trading licence with the council, were displaced to North End for the duration of the works, where they enjoyed the improved footfall and better takings. Some have expressed a reluctance to return to Surrey Street, and some shops on North End have also liked having the bustle of a street market on their doorstep.
An experiment in having Surrey Street’s street food traders moved to Queen’s Gardens flopped badly, with little passing trade to sustain any business.
And none of Surrey Street’s casual stall-holders – those who only took pitches on short terms – were been accommodated at a Croydon site during the works. It remains to be seen how many stalls are back trading on Surrey Street from next week.
Question marks remain over the £1.1million that was supposed to have been spent on the works, its real value and effectiveness.
“It looks like a million quid’s worth of crazy paving. What have they spent our money on?” one trader told Inside Croydon. “I can’t believe they’ve spent £1million on doing those little tiles. What a waste of council money, and what a waste of our time.”
One suggestion as to the high cost has been that the contractors have used additional staff to get the job finished by the June 1 deadline which was set by the council leader, Tony Newman. Weekend working and overtime payments have added to the costs. According to Mark Watson, Newman’s close council colleague who oversaw the market upgrade, £10,000 was spent on a piece of “artwork” which is suspended from the pedestrian walkway which crosses Surrey Street.
Others affected by the roadworks have been more phlegmatic about their impact.
“Having the market moved hasn’t really affected us,” said one trader based on Surrey Street, “but we do miss the stall-holders because they’re all top blokes and ladies who work on it.”
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