DOWNSIZING Chester’s indoor market with what one stallholder has dubbed the ‘Berlin Wall’ has divided market traders.

Cheshire West and Chester Council is planning to create a more ‘vibrant trading area’ at the struggling market hall by closing off a large empty section with a wall.

Some argue it is an unfortunate necessity while others believe the council aims to reduce the number of market traders so they will fit into a proposed new market hall at Frodsham Street car park.

Vic Button of Button’s Electrical, said of the so-called Berlin Wall: “It’s trying to push us out, I’m absolutely sure of that. It’s much easier to move a few stalls than a lot of stalls.”

And Mr Button, chairman of Friends of Chester Market, who opposes the new market hall proposals, added: “We know two storey markets do not work, we know that from the Market Traders Federation. Generally people will not walk upstairs.”

Mr Button says the market hall has been ‘in limbo’ for the last 20 years, with traders constantly being told they are about relocate to make way for city centre redevelopments which have never happened.

“When we’ve tried to say ‘This needs doing, that needs doing’, they’ve said ‘It’s not worth doing it because it’s coming down’.

“Meanwhile traders have been getting peeved off with it all, and all the stuff ruined and no answer to getting anything done and they’ve been going.”

But arguing in favour of making the market smaller, Dave Haagar, of David James Jewellers, said: “People were struggling this end any way. The idea of shortening it, it purports to be temporary, I think if it was going to be in longer then we might have worries about it. But I think giving the market a more compact look, if we can be together, I think that works well. As it is, it looks a mess.”

Mr Haagar is also in favour of the new market hall. “We are being relocated at the council’s cost. And everything we have asked, the council has done. They have offered us a stall in a better position on the same terms we are on now and the council are paying the costs of refitting us out over there. So I take my hat off to them.”

Council spokesman Ian Callister said: “Reducing the size of the building – part of which is under-populated – and housing all the traders in the new area will create a more vibrant and profitable trading atmosphere.”