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Romford Market plans passed after funding boost

PUBLISHED: 15:07 28 January 2016 | UPDATED: 15:26 28 January 2016

The sorry state of Romford Market at 11.30am on Saturday

The sorry state of Romford Market at 11.30am on Saturday

Archant

The Romford Market transformation looks set to go ahead after Boris Johnson agreed to stump up the requested £1million investment and councillors passed plans.

The Mayor of London will also give £2.1million in match funding to the redevelopment, which has divided opinions within the council chamber.

At last night’s full council meeting, leader Cllr Roger Ramsey (Conservative, Emerson Park) spoke out in support of the £2.6million project which includes new trading days, food stalls and a £1.2million play area.

He said: “The shopping centre is one of the largest sub-regional floorspace shopping centres in this part of the country. It deserves to have regeneration.”

Opposition members, who slammed the report by consultants 20:20 Ltd last month for its lack of detail, remained unconvinced. Opposition leader Cllr Ray Morgon (Residents’ Association, Hacton) had a proposal for a comprehensive review of the plans rejected.

He also questioned whether the market was still relevant and said the council had a history of “chucking money at it”.

“There’s too little supply of stalls selling goods that can’t be bought elsewhere,” he said. “The number of people visiting has declined and if it continues to decline it will reach the point of no return. Maybe it has already reached that point and we are in denial.”

After being called-in last month, the report was sent back to cabinet, who again approved plans, saying a more in-depth proposal would be made if funding was granted.

On Wednesday night, Cllr Robert Benham (Con, Brooklands) questioned the timing of the call-in, which was close to the deadline for the funding application.

Cllr Steven Kelly (Con, Emerson Park), hit back, saying the claim was insulting.

“If it was a better written report and had some substance rather than a shallow drift it wouldn’t have had to be called-in,” he argued. “If the cabinet member wants to make criticisms about things being called-in, he should make sure his reports are a little better written.”

Cllr Keith Darvill (Labour, Heaton) and Cllr Morgon, who were responsible for the call-in, agreed plans were rushed but despite their concerns members voted them through.

Tony Geary, chairman of Romford Market Traders Forum, said the committee and traders were happy the funding had been secured.

Proposals should be completed by the end of March.

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