CHESTER’S struggling market will be reduced by a third in size when a wall is erected to hide the space once occupied by traders.

Cheshire West and Chester Council aims to create ‘a vibrant trading area’ because the empty stalls are giving a negative impression to shoppers.

Eventually the council intends to rehouse traders in a new £8m market hall on the Frodsham Street car park to allow a city centre redevelopment to take place.

There has been a mixed response to the wall proposal, with long established traders having to re-locate to enable it to be erected.

Trader Suhail Ahmed of clothing stall Saira Trading, whose family has been in the market for more than 40 years, has been given notice to quit because he won’t accept the alternative site he has been offered.

He said: “I agreed with the wall. “When I discussed this, I did say the market is too big because of the declining business.

“If you want the market to survive we should build a wall so there would not be so much negativity about the place.”

But he added: “I told them from the beginning I don’t want to go down ‘death valley’. Why they put me there I don’t know.”

Mr Ahmed said the proposed wall was now moving further into the trading area.

“The way they are doing it they are making it too small,” he said. “The way they conduct themselves it’s as if they answer to nobody. It’s a disgrace.”

Sandra Taker of Toolcraft, whose shop has been in the market for 28 years, has been told her business will be moving into an area occupied by long-standing casual traders which has caused resentment.

Mrs Taker, who is consulting solicitors, said of the wall: “They are making the market smaller because they are incapable of attracting new traders to come into the market.”

Council spokesman Ian Callister said in addition to reducing the size of the market, the authority had spent £107,000 on improvements including repainting the hall, refurbishment of vacant units and sliding doors and there were plans for new signage.