UNHAPPY traders have fresh hope after the decision to hand over the management of Middlewich Market to a private firm was blocked.
Three weeks ago Congleton Borough Council's executive committee voted to award a contract to Shropshire-based Town and Country Markets to run markets in Middlewich, Sandbach and Alsager - to many traders' anger and disappointment.
But three concerned councillors on the authority's community select committee have called in the decision, stopping the move in its tracks for the time being.
Now the future of the markets is in doubt again. The select committee will meet on Friday, January 5, to decide whether to ask the executive to re-consider.
The role of the community select committee is to scrutinise policies and decisions. To call in a decision, members from at least two political parties must come together.
In this case, chairman Cllr Derek Hough (Lib Dem), Cllr Roy Giltrap (Lib Dem), and Cllr Paul Edwards (Middlewich First), have acted.
Congleton Borough and Middlewich Town Councillor Paul Edwards said he wanted to know more about the decision and the cost of contracting out the market.
Cllr Edwards said: 'We called it in because we weren't sure what it was going to cost us.
'What was going to happen to all the equipment? Were we going to sell it off and what happens to the blokes that are doing the market, would they be laid off?
'And if we sell off all the equipment what happens if the council want to take the market back under control?'
It is believed that the major concerns regard how much consultation there was with traders, and a lack of time that the council executive had to consider its decision.
The council hopes that the £200,000 that would be invested by a private firm would provide a shot in the arm for the ailing markets currently held on Tuesday's in Somerfield Car Park.
One of the ideas to revitalise the market and encourage more traders and shoppers include moving it into Wheelock Street.
Democratic services officer Sarah Miller said: 'Cllr David Brown, as the community portfolio holder, will explain to the select committee what he looked into when the decision was made and he will answer any questions they might have.'
The senior scrutiny officer at the council, Helen Burt, added: 'It has been decided that the called-in decision will be dealt with at a meeting of the community select committee on Monday January 5.'