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Off the back of the social media storm, as a result of Chester Market vendors and CWaC struggling to come to an agreement over rates and late-night opening, we thought it only fair to seek out both sides of the story.

Here’s one of the initial posts from That Beer Place on 27th November:

‘SORRY! Unfortunately, we will NOT be open on Saturday evenings, as traders have been unable to negotiate agreeable terms with CWaC. On CWaC terms, many traders would have to pay double the rent just to trade for a further 5 hours a week. We have also been informed that the supremely popular Friday evenings may be held at further (equivalent) cost or stopped if we do not pay this extra cost and open for Saturdays. Again, we sincerely apologise to all our customers.’

The Council then issued this statement:

‘The Council has worked incredibly hard in partnership with the traders over the past 18 months to build and grow a thriving market that Chester can be proud of. We’ve invested in the market for the benefit of the community,  in a new seating area, much needed toilets and new signage and supported a number of new businesses to develop unique offers.

As part of this commitment we have funded late night openings on Thursdays and Fridays, as well as Sunday days, with the plan now to also open on Saturdays. Every night that the market remains open is currently costing us £1,000. We’ve been as open and transparent as we can with the traders about these costs and there is no profit being made by the Council.

It’s vital that market traders, the community and the Council all work together to make the market as successful as it can be – we want to deliver Saturday nights for the benefit of everyone but it can’t come at a cost to the service. What we’re asking is that we share responsibility, if a trader is making money they make a small contribution to the weekly £4,000 costs currently being covered by the Council as the market grows in popularity.

We want to talk to the traders about this and work with them to find a way forward and we are meeting with the traders later this week.’

On the 28th, it was good news, as Vinological tweeted:

UPDATE. We have reached an amicable agreement with CWaC and we will now be open on Saturdays throughout December & January. Many thanks to @richardbeacham for facilitating this agreement!

The Council then said, ‘We launched a four week trial period of Chester Market opening late on Saturdays throughout November, which was subsidised by the Council.

Today we have extended this pilot scheme for an additional two months, throughout December and January.

The market is thriving and the extended trial will allow us to work with traders to understand the viability of extending the Market’s opening hours permanently.’

It’s always tricky to cleanly call out good guys and bad guys, without all the information – but you now know all we know. What is clear, is Chester Market is drawing eager crowds and much loved by locals – long may it be supported and continue!