A social enterprise, responsible for the running of Portadown’s town market has expressed its “regret” at Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council’s decision to end its current arrangement.
The comment follows Council’s decision to invite expressions of interest from parties interested in running Portadown market.
At present, the town’s market is operated and managed by Portadown 2000 within its premises on William Street but as of March 31 the service level agreement between Council and the company will end.
This decision, has prompted Council to seek alternative arrangements for the future management of Portadown’s weekly market.
Council hopes to have reached an agreement with the future provider of the town’s market in time for this summer.
Reflecting on Council’s decision, a spokesperson for Portadown 2000 said its aim remains the same as always – to regenerate Portadown town centre.
“Portadown 2000 was formed by a group of concerned individuals in 1998 following the devastating IRA bomb blast which devastated part of our town,” said a spokesperson for Portadown 2000.
“The purpose then was to regenerate this part of the town and create a shared space for all – the first of its kind in Portadown, during that difficult time in our towns shared history.
“This same ethos exists to this day.
“The company regrets that Council has proposed to end the present arrangement. It is hard to escape the conclusion that there is an ambition in some quarters to withdraw from the centre of Portadown.”
Parties interested in running Portadown market are advised Council currently has two market sites available for the running of the weekly market, the Fairgreen car park or Magowan West car park.
Other sites may be available in the future and Council will consider permitting any prospective operator to use its private facilities, either indoor or out.
Council is keen to see the market operate two times a week with optional daytime or evening operational times.
The deadline for expressions of interest to be submitted is 2pm on Thursday, February 25.
At the time of writing it is understood the board of Portadown 2000 are yet to decide if the organisation will partake in this process.
However, the spokesperson for the company did confirm whatever happens with the market, serving the people of Portadown will remain its priority.
“For a number of years it has been well documented in the local press that there have been various issues with funding for our core services provided to the community by our organisation,” said the spokesperson.
“We have been working to face these challenges, and to face the challenges of significant change in retail and town centre usage.
“Change can be difficult but change, however unforeseen, can also be an opportunity to develop something fresh and exciting for Portadown.
“The company is committed, without reservation, to serve the Portadown community as its priority.”
Speaking about the decision to issue a call for expressions of interest in the running of Portadown town market a Council spokesperson said it is an opportunity for Council to consider the the future operation of Portadown market.
“The expression of interest process is an opportunity to explore and engage on the future operation of Portadown market,” said the spokesperson.
“Council is seeking to engage with prospective operators about providing a market operation that responds to the needs of Portadown.
“The feedback received through the process will shape the future tender which will be publicly advertised following the EoI process.”
The spokesperson also explained that Portadown 2000 never held a licence to operate Portadown market.
“Council and Portadown 2000 historically had an agreement for the provision of multiple services, of which the market was one of them,” said the spokesperson.
“However, there was no licence.
“Council is looking forward to the opportunity of exploring and engaging on the future operation of Portadown Market through the Expression of Interest process.”