Market traders get temporary sanctuary in church car park

Market traders, who had been in working on a Portadown street after the official market closed, have found a temporary home close to the town centre.

Thursday, 4th March 2021, 9:09 am

Some traders continued to do business since the first lockdown last March but a dispute arose between them and Portadown 2000, a group which had been paid to run the official market on behalf of Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council.

Now those traders have found refuge with Thomas St Methodist Church, where they will be operating from Friday in the car park.

Around three groups of traders, including fruit and vegetable sellers as well as fishmongers, kept trading in the street after lockdown in March last year and were heavily involved in bringing vital food to those shielding and the elderly during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Market traders Jackie Hannon and Colin Weir with the Rev Darren Thompson of Thomas St Methodist Church. The traders will be operating temporarily from the church car park.

Portadown 2000, which ran the market at Millennium Court Arts Centre for a number of years, reopened an outdoor ‘covered’ market when COVID-19 restrictions eased - however, some traders found it unsuitable for their needs.

That covered market, close to Millennium Court, was only opened for a small number of hours two days per week and has since closed again due to the latest lockdown.

Thomas St Methodist Church came to the rescue of these market traders and invited them to use the car park of their church until an alternative venue is found.

It is just a few minutes walk from the previous market location in William Street. The traders are expected to use it until a more permanent home is established.

Shirley Houghton, a spokesperson for some of the Portadown traders, said: “We are delighted to be moving away from William Street and from all the bad experiences and childish behaviour.”

Ms Houghton revealed that the group of traders will be moving from this Friday to the car park at Thomas St Methodist Church.

She said: “It is only a temporary home and we are very grateful to the Minister, Rev Darrin Thompson and his Church Council for allowing us to be there.”

Recently it was revealed that the contract between the council and Portadown 2000 was coming to an end. The council had asked for those interested in taking on the management of the market to contact them.

It is understood the council has received a number of applications and various locations around Portadown have been put forward for a market including Magowan West car park and Fair Green car park.

Late last month Portadown 2000 expressed ‘regret’ that the council had decided to end its current arrangement.

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