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Durham Market Place 'a tip' - MP
DURHAM Market Place is a tip, cannot be left as it is and must be improved, the city’s MP has said.
Just 18 months after Durham County Council completed its hugely controversial £5.25m Heart of the City (HoC) project aimed at revamping the area, Roberta Blackman-Woods said the Market Place was neither safe nor attractive and had to be put right.
The MP has asked the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) to step in to provide funding.
“I don’t see how we can get more economic activity in Durham with the Market Place looking such a tip,” she said.
“I’ve got it on the agenda of the LEP to see if they can find the money to fix what’s wrong.”
HoC saw new paving and lights installed and the Lord Londonderry statue relocated and was completed in summer 2011.
The MP wants improvements to the stone seats, street furniture and cleaning regime.
Her action comes amid claims the new Market Place is wearing poorly and meetings with the council which she says produced no progress.
“I don’t think the council is unwilling to correct some of the worst aspects. It’s just they can’t identify an income stream,” she said.
“But I’m not going to give it up. It can’t stay the way it is. It’s not acceptable.”
Adrian White, the council’s head of transport and contract services, said the new Market Place had already proven to be a “hugely improved open space for hosting high profile events” such as the Lumiere festival and the Olympic Torch relay.
It is more flexible and great efforts have been made to ensure it is in keeping with Durham’s heritage, he added.
Mr White said the council had responded to public feedback, citing the decision to reinstall traffic lights on Saddler Street.
The council was working with traders and there may be “a very small number of minor changes”, he said, but these would take into account the needs of residents, visitors and traders.
The LEP is expected to discuss the issue in the next few months.