ANGRY market traders in Worcester say their livelihood is being "killed off" after the council failed to find them a temporary home while their base is revamped.
Traders in Angel Place fear for their future during the 13-week refurbishment and worry they will not have a home when work is finished.
Their fate is in the hands of the new market operator, yet to be appointed by Worcester City Council.
The operator is set to be in place by December 1 but in the meantime shell-shocked traders are in limbo.
Carl and Shelley Cusack who each run a stall were away on their honeymoon in York when told over the telephone that the council has been unable to find a temporary home for the stall-holders.
Mr Cusack, aged 39, is "shocked and horrified" and Mrs Cusack, 35, is "disgusted" by the council’s poor communication with the market’s 16 traders.
Mr Cusack said: “How will I pay my bills?”
The £555,000 Angel Place regeneration project has been put back by one week and will start on Tuesday, September 9.
The cost will be met by Worcester City Council, Worcestershire County Council and the Crown Estate, owners of CrownGate shopping centre.
The traders, some of whom have depended on the market for their livelihoods for more than quarter of a century, were given the devastating news that the market will have to shut for three months during the revamp about their temporary home falling yesterday.
The city council said: “Unfortunately it has not been possible to find a temporary home for Worcester’s market traders while the refurbishment of Angel Place takes place between September and November.”
Angel Place will not be closed during the revamp but work means the market must shut for three months.
Repaving work will take place and existing fixed stands will be removed and replaced with higher quality, flexible and movable stands.
David Blake, economic development and planning policy manager at the city council, said: “It was always hoped that the traders could be accommodated in empty units within CrownGate shopping centre, but that did not prove to be possible so we have been working hard to find an alternative.
“We worked closely with County Highways to find an alternative site and identified Queen Street as the only one that could work.
"Highways were happy to approve a 12-week road closure, but the market operators (not the individual traders - Worcester News) we spoke to about running the site felt that it was not financially viable.”
Duncan Squires, 60, at the flower stall, said: “The thing I’m disappointed about is that all the way through since they announced it was going to happen they said they were going to find us a temporary location.
"On the basis of that everyone has just accepted it. We haven’t looked for any other markets. They (the council) have dragged it out and dragged it out.
"This is my only source of livelihood. Now they are saying we have not got anywhere temporary and we’re not guaranteed to get anywhere even when the work is finished.
“When the market opens in December I do have a feeling certain traders would not be wanted on it.
"I think they have the idea of something ‘pretty pretty’ and ‘arty farty’ and some of the stalls on here would not fit into those plans. They have ideas of Angel Place being like Covent Garden with bars and cafes and cute stalls selling scented candles.”
David Grubb, 61, of D&M Meat has been working on his butcher’s van at Angel Place for the last 25 years but was told two weeks ago there would be no place for his stall at the new-look market when it is finished.
He said: “It is atrocious the way the council has handled this. We have never known anything all the way through - until this morning.
"What can I do? I will have to lay off my two staff. We can have a look at alternatives but they are very rare.
“I was told two weeks ago there wasn’t space for me because the unit is too big. It’s a shame - this is a market chartered city. They should be able to find us somewhere to go. They can find plenty of space for other markets but they can’t find space for 13 weeks for us.
"I personally feel they don’t want the market down here.”
Stall-holder Paul Gardner, 48, known as The Pet Man, said: “This means I have no earnings for 13 weeks. I’m surprised they can do this.
"I thought we had some sort of right?
"There has been a market ever since the time of King John. I feel like they’re killing it off. Thirteen weeks of closure - what does that do to a business?”
He said if he returned he would have to build up his customers again ‘from scratch’ not to mention the loss of income during the work. Traders have been talking about organising a petition about their concerns.
He added: “There are empty shops. Why can’t the council find an empty shop for each of us? There are three units just behind me. The rents would probably be too high.
"Maybe the council could pay our rent for the next 13 weeks. That would be lovely. They don’t want us market traders. We are the lowest of the low in their eyes.”
Individual traders have the option of identifying a location themselves and applying to Worcester City Council for authorisation to trade there under the city’s market charter and to Worcestershire Regulatory Services for a trading licence.
David Blake at the city council said: “We will consider any applications that traders make, although we will have to be mindful of the suitability of any location they apply for and of any other events already booked for the vicinity during that 12-week period.”