A CAMPAIGN to re-open a market in Stalybridge has attracted considerable support.
Liam Billington, Conservative party candidate for Stalybridge South, launched a petition to bring back a market in what is now the Civic Hall.
He believes a market would lure shoppers to the town and that would benefit shopkeepers.
Liam, a 29-year-old marketing manager, said: “I have been surprised by the support – 100 people signed the online petition in the first 24 hours.
“We (Tameside Conservatives) are also planning to go out in Stalybridge town centre and also go door-to-door to collect signatures which we will present to Tameside Council.”
And Liam believes reviving the market would be a key component to the regeneration of Stalybridge which is also Tameside Council’s choice for Mayor of Manchester Andy Burnham’s Town Centre Challenge.
He said: “It’s a travesty that Tameside Council closed Stalybridge market in the first place, and people want it back.
“All this has done is move shoppers away from Stalybridge and into Ashton.
“This is totally unfair on our small businesses who contribute a lot to our local economy.
“Stalybridge has a real opportunity to be a real gem of a town centre, but local decision making at the council is holding us back.
“I can see Stalybridge becoming the next Uppermill with the right care and attention that our town deserves.
“Trafford Council faced similar issues with Altrincham having one of the highest levels of empty shops in the country due to the Trafford Centre being close by.
“They have invested in their town centre and revitalised their market hall which is providing a huge increase in footfall to the town. If Trafford can do this, so can Tameside.”
Liam added all prosperous towns have the focus of a hub and he believes the re-opening of the market would provide an anchor for the town centre.
He continued: “I have heard it mentioned that a market would hit traders, but I think it would complement local businesses.
“If there isn’t a focus, the heart and soul is ripped out as you have seen with Denton and Dukinfield where there is no town centre.
“People look at Stalybridge and say there is no money in the town, but there are prosperous parts. Why can’t they shop in Stalybridge and spend money locally rather than in Manchester.”
Liam added he has a special empathy with the traders as his grandmother Emily Hines had a haberdashery shop Buttons & Bows in the town in the 1950s and 60s.
Looking ahead, Liam believes the future could be bright for the town.
He said: “It is great what Andy Burnham is doing, though the focus is on housing.
“We will have more people living in the town centre so need more local jobs so they don’t have to travel to work in Manchester, Trafford Park, Bury and Rochdale.
“That would also ease congestion that is a huge problem locally. We need a strategy where people live close to their work.”
Liam, a former pupil at West Hill School, Stalybridge, says people need better job prospects in the town.
He continued: “I didn’t go to university, but we educate people to do well and leave but, if there were more high-paying jobs, they would stay rather than heading for London.
“We don’t see the benefit from their education and we should be encouraging them to stay.
“I have nothing against them moving, but let’s make Tameside and Stalybridge a more attractive place to work.”
Liam added Ashton had £4.5million spent on its new outdoor market while Hyde’s has also been regenerated.
He concluded: “There is nothing to say why Stalybridge would not benefit from an investment and learn from previous mistakes.
“I think we can do something better. We have a marvellous building that is not used to its potential.”