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'I will fight on for our family and for my dad'

Bold Street traders report slump in trade after closure of popular fruit and veg stall, but it's not over yet for the Christians...

Published on October 20th 2010.

'I will fight on for our family and for my dad'

BUSINESSES at the top end of Bold Street say they are suffering a big slump in trade since the closure of the popular Christians fruit and veg stall, which has seen its sick owner “fall down in sadness and despair”, according to his daughter.

My dad's really low with this now. He's been working on barrows since he was 14. He wakes up at 4am every day because that's what he's done all his life, get up in the dark to go to the market. He doesn't know what to do with himself. None of us do

In a colourful area of the city centre that has already seen footfall drop off since the opening of Liverpool One, traders are now calling on Liverpool City Council to help resurrect the market, in some form, as a matter of urgency.

It comes as Toni Collins, daughter of market owner John, vowed to fight on to keep the family's 140 year heritage as market traders alive.

The Christian Family has plied its produce on the so-called RopeWalks Square, near to FACT, since 1992, latterly renting their premises, a galvanised shed, on private land owned by Philip Glennon.

Planning permission to develop the land ran out in 2004, but a series of council notices ordering the demolition of the temporary structure were thwarted by appeals and various legal loopholes.

Meanwhile, the stall, which was long seen as a blot on the landscape by some regeneration officials, continued to trade briskly, with thousands of customers each week.

At the start of March, it was finally torn down after a pledge by council officials that the family would be able to return to the pitch, trading from barrows, once the site was flagged over.

“We would never have gone if the council hadn't told us we would be allowed back,” Toni told Liverpool Confidential this week. “We believed them. Can you blame us for feeling really angry?”

The Christians' return was short lived. Only a day after the stall's comeback, five weeks ago, they, their new van and a large quantity of perishable stock were ordered off by planning enforcement officers. They claimed there had been a “mistake” and threatened to call the police if the family didn't leave immediately.

Now stores including News From Nowhere and Matta's have reported that business has fallen since the start of April, dramatically in some cases, and directly attribute the downturn to the loss of the market.

“It made the top of Bold Street a magnet for shoppers coming out of town. People would walk up from town, drop in at Matta's, browse the bookshop or go for a drink, and then they would stock up on fruit and veg before getting the bus home,” says Sara Newton from the radical book store, News from Nowhere.

“We have really noticed a big drop in custom since then. I would say around twenty five to thirty percent.

The official U-turn happened after it emerged that the land on Ropewalks Square was not designated for street trading, after all.

“We have been told by the council that it could take six months' consultation, once an application goes before the licensing committee to get it designated properly, and get the family back there trading,” Ms Newton said.

“Because of the election, there isn't even a licensing committee at the moment. As a business, we haven't got six months. We need them back now.”

By Angie Sammons

Deepak Matta, of the eponymous international food store on Bold St, shook his head: “Look at the shop, it's nothing like as busy as it usually is. Trade is right down. The fall-off in customers corresponds exactly to the time the stall went. We are missing it badly.”

“We want it back,” staff at the Italian Club said, while the Soul Cafe revealed their profit margins were right down because they now have to get produce delivered from the Edge Lane Market, at considerably higher cost.

Many restaurants and cafes in the area are affected, particularly those had a running tab with Christians which sold exotic and hard-to-source produce from around the world, as well as the most affordable fruit and vegetables in the city.

Not everyone is a loser: according to workers at the Tesco Express, opposite, produce is now delivered daily, to keep up with the sudden demand.

But Toni says her father, who suffers from emphysema, does not blame the retail giant, even though last month, two foot high graffiti appeared on the former site of the stall which very clearly did.

"My dad's really low with this now. He's been working on barrows since he was 14,” she said. “He wakes up at 4am every day because that's what he's done all his life, get up in the dark to go to the market. He doesn't know what to do with himself. None of us do.”

Running the market kept him relatively healthy, she said. “He tried to join a gym last week but they wouldn't let him because his blood pressure has shot up so high. The other day there were even cobwebs in the new van, just sitting there. You'd laugh if it wasn't so truly miserable.”

Urban snap of the month

Sara Newton said: “My kids have never eaten such a bad diet since the fruit stall went. It was cheap and everyone loved it."

Asked if she would not consider going to the much maligned Tesco Express when she ran out of fruit, Ms Newton suggested that she would “rather saw a leg off”, adding: “We need someone to get things moving quickly to redesignate the land, or find them affordable alternative premises near by.”

Antonia said: “We have filled in all the application paperwork weeks ago. Nobody has been back to us at all. We are completely in the dark.”

A spokesman for Liverpool City Council said the licensing department had been approached by one business on Bold Street expressing concerns about the fall-off in trade. He also said that the square is to feature in a consultation programme, led by FACT, to find best use of the land in a bid to draw awareness to the venue. However it was impossible to say, at this stage, whether a stall would be part of such a scheme.

Meanwhile, Antonia reiterated her determination to somehow resolve the family's plight.

“I can't see my dad upset like this. He is a proud man. A fighter. But he doesn't like bother. Right now he has just given up.”

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50 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

AnonymousMay 11th 2010.

It's a load of cack isn't it?

Louis SamsonMay 11th 2010.

Deprivation always seems 'colourful' to middle class incomers.

EditorialMay 11th 2010.

In all fairness, Angry, the new council have only been in for two days and this happened two months ago. There are no committees even set up at the moment to review this situation, but we will keep you posted if there are any new developments. The return of the stall most certainly looks to be high on people's wish lists right now.

Bold Street BoulevardierMay 11th 2010.

I do find it odd that whilst the previous, Lib-Dem Council went to ludicrous extremes (including an expensive fudged survey at our expense the results of which they ignored anyway) to protect Storey's rent-defaulting mates with those ugly, unpopular eyesore stalls on Church Street, that the same council chose to persecute this one which the public actually did want and was an asset to the area.

JoanMay 11th 2010.

Hi Allsorry to be pedantic, but it's Ropewalk Square - Arthouse Square is the one behind FACT, between it and the PCT.I am desperately missing the stall - I would say that my health and wellbeing is directly affected. I am one of those thousands of people who relied on the stall for my veg shopping - I don't own a car, so it was brilliant to have the there with fresh produce, right next to my bus stop. I really hope a solution can be found so that they can come back soon, whether to Ropewalk Square or another site on Bold Street soon - a little bit of life has gone out of my favourite place, and I'd like it back. EDITORIAL: Thanks Joan, The infallible taxi driver knowledge for street names finally lets us down and clearly needs to regenerate. We've made the change.

Poppa CornMay 11th 2010.

Started out as a good concept but very quickly Fact was fuct. Give the Christians their factin pitch back.

AnonymousMay 11th 2010.

Ian O is spot on.

missing it alreadyMay 11th 2010.

If, as claimed, the council reneged on a promise to let the Christians return to the site, then that is truly shameful (and actionable, surely?). True, the Christians have managed to fend them off for six years after planning permission lapsed so they've not had a bad run at it.But Christians' halthy, affordable food was never needed more than now, in the new age of austerity. Their stall was a key element in the lowrent boho charm of Bold Street, even if the jobsworth boxwallahs in the council can't see that.

AnonymousMay 11th 2010.

Fruit stall back please. Now

realistMay 11th 2010.

Thousands of people did just that, nothing romantic about it.

WagMay 11th 2010.

Hear hear Leon!

O. RangeMay 11th 2010.

Why don't they set up their stall on Renshaw Street on the wasteland created when the idiotic Council pulled down the Georgian buildings that housed thriving businesses 'Kwik Fit' and 'Out of Print' to build a "link road" that was already cancelled?

Ken O'MatographMay 11th 2010.

The one that sells popcorn and noisy snacks to chumps who ruin the films for everyone else?

Cinema GoerMay 11th 2010.

Sorry it may be my fault that Christians has gone. Whenever there was a film on I wanted to see at FACT I couldn't go as there was a pesky fruit and veg stall in my way. Myself and several hundred other cinema goers would be congregated on Bold Street desperately looking for a way past Christians. I could have walked up or down Wood or Fleet Street to FACT (where all the bars and pubs are, not Bold Street) but I didn't want to do that. I wanted to walk down the pub free, clean Bold Street then across the square to FACT but every time I went there was a crowd stopped from getting to FACT by that 150 year old fruit stall. Out of curiosity, how long has FACT been in Liverpool?

MishyanneMay 11th 2010.

The Council's behaviour has been so underhand. Maybe that's why they've been voted out! I think Joe Anderson will be far more honourable and sympathetic to the Christians and other businesses in Bold Street. He needs to act quickly before shops lose so much money they have option but to close. The fruit stall was the hub of Bold Street. BRING IT BACK!

AnonymousMay 11th 2010.

Even Madam Foner's has gone down hill in recent years. Popping in their to buy some surprise gifts for the mistress was one of the highlights of my year.

AnonymousMay 11th 2010.

Duh! Personally I'd buy the fruit and veg on my way downhill into town and get the bus back up the hill but we're obviously dealing with people who drink in Woodies here.

PAUL WILLIAMSMay 11th 2010.

..this is applalling, so is the rundown and closure of Lewis's. I read in the Echo that Lewis's is to be part of a new 'village'! Yeah right, Starbucks,glass,bland,units empty after 12 months. So manyof the 'village' parts of Liverpool have gone and closing market stalls like this doesn't help the so called 'village' argument !! Villages have market stalls........councils can be clueless.

Local LadMay 11th 2010.

What daft names for squares! The rope walk where ropes and cables for ships were twined, were not on posh Bold Street; they were hidden away in the industrial back streets behind Central Station.And Arthouse Square? Who or what was Arthoose?

AnonymousMay 11th 2010.

A bit of reason please. Let us pray that the new council will find a way of not making this business, integral to Bold St, wait for six months to do what it has always done.

AnonymousMay 11th 2010.

Why should a six-month consultation be needed? It's a pen-stroke surely?

Behave yourselfMay 11th 2010.

I am not interested in this petty person going on about what Bold Street does or doesn't look like and posting under lots of different silly names. I would like to see the fruit and veg stall back and I can't think of one person who thinks that's a bad thing - unless of course, they have never used it

Walter CressMay 11th 2010.

The Kismet back please. Now!

Angry Liverpool ResidentMay 11th 2010.

This is terrible. I can't believe the council has been so willing to stand by and let this happen. It's supposedly the year of health and well-being in Liverpool, yet the council does nothing to stop the demise of such a valuable contributor to the city's health. What is wrong with them? Many, many people are desperately missing Christians. I thought under new leadership, the council might start listening to the wishes of the people but I am beginning to doubt this already.

Order PleaseMay 11th 2010.

We're losing sight of the issue here. A brilliant, long-standing, independent retailer is in danger of being lost forever. Christians needs support, not people bickering over what Bold Street is or is not anymore

WagMay 11th 2010.

I bet you live on the Wirral

CuriousMay 11th 2010.

I don't want to watch mainstream films that I can see at the Odeon. I would like the fruit stall to be returned.

KeithMay 11th 2010.

Shoppers are not staying away from Bold Street because of drunks and beggars. They are staying away because their reason to trek all the way up to the top of the street has disappeared. The fruit stall. Haven't YOU read the article?

SeanMay 11th 2010.

I am a student and I am from a working class family and I gutted that Christians has gone. I was in there twice a week. It is a tragedy that it has been lost. We need it back now.

In actual FACTMay 11th 2010.

The removal of this proud Liverpool institution has got nothing to do with Tesco and everything to do with it's nearest neighbour across the square. Knowarramean?

Aubrey ZheenMay 11th 2010.

Hear hear!

The Lady of ShallotsMay 11th 2010.

Of course the desolation of Renshaw Street and the departure of the popular Rapid Hardware might have something to do with the drop in "footfall". Renshaw Street now looks like Lodge Lane after the 1981 riots.

AnonymousMay 11th 2010.

My family's health and wellbeing has been affected, aided by the fact that we are now having to eat supermarket fruit and veg and all the cost that that implies. I work in the city centre and catch the train from central so it was no problem to take home a couple of bags of stuff once or twice a week. Lovely good produce and a feelgood place to shop in. Shame, shame, shame. And well said Leon.

Hazel DenebooksMay 11th 2010.

Yes, that will attract hordes of people all the way up the hill to burden themselves with heavy, bulky bags of fruit and veg according to the romantic Keith.It would be handy for local cafes and restaurants though

In actual FACTMay 11th 2010.

That's just the ticket (booth). Blame Tesco? Perhaps not....

KopiteMay 11th 2010.

The council has its own agenda Sir Terry Leahy is/was on liverpool visions board so has an active role in this, they wanted a tesco on hope street ffs, the council doesn't care about the residents of the city centre, it cares for profit.

leon kayMay 11th 2010.

Like all things that are good ,alternative ,give a sense of life , vibrancy and colour to the city centre the council and big buisness do not want to know and to put people like The Christians out of buisnesss is a damn disgrace.Own goals all round when the city farthers put the council tax up and the lanlords put the rents up and the trade has dropped 30% then the shops go and a another emty premises stands empty for years till it falls down .The people of this city are not all WAGS and lottery winners.You fools know not what you do!!!!Yours disgusted of Liverpool 8.

KeithMay 11th 2010.

These people are a century and a half old institution in Liverpool. That's older than the Liver buildings and the Anglican cathedral. Come on, LCC, pull your finger out.

angry from west derbyMay 11th 2010.

I think this is a crying shame - not just for the Christians but for all of Bold Stret. For so long Bold Street was a shadow of its former heyday self. Then it picked itself up and became a fabulous place for all manner of bargains and curios. How can they let it return to desolation???? I blame Liverpool ONE. It has taken over the city centre and I fear for the older established shopping areas. I knew this would happen once the place opened.We must support Bold Street and campaign for Christians to be put back.Start a petition to Joe Anderson now!

SurlyMay 11th 2010.

So we have a couple of thousand people in China trooping through a Liverpool stand with a picture of Red Rum on it that cost £1 million and thousands of people in Liverpool each week buying off the fruit stall which would cost nothing to put back beyond a bit of common sense!

LumiereMay 11th 2010.

Who the FUCT are FACT?

capitalist who caresMay 11th 2010.

This was a freindly, inexpensive outlet selling good healthy fruit and veg. So much better than pre-packaged processed food from supermarkets (incidentally also much dearer).Give them a nice barrow or two - that would fit in perfectly with the deisired "artistic" feel of the FACt and the square. DO IT NOW!!!!!!

Really fed up nowMay 11th 2010.

You would have thought the red tape lovers would have done everything in their power to keep something like that there which was so undeniably popular, especially as pointed out, in health and wellbeing year. The out-of-pocket costs of buying a new van worth thousands and all that stock should be reimbursed by whoever made the "mistake" at the council.

Reefer JoeMay 11th 2010.

This is a real shame. Soon our city centre will be completely identical to Northampton.

Ken O'MatographMay 11th 2010.

Can we zoom in to examine this in close-up?

C. AfeberlinMay 11th 2010.

I really miss Bona Pets.

Bernard SilverMay 11th 2010.

Keith, Bold Street is a filthy, downmarket dump now, your passage is repeatedly blocked by drunks and beggars that's why shoppers are staying away. Haven't you read the article?

KeithMay 11th 2010.

I beg to differ. Bold Street is vibrant and different to the rest of the city centre. Despite the best efforts of a multi-tiered administration it remains the only remotely colourful area with independent traders selling goods you will not find anywhere else. Can you imagine businesses like Mattas being lost? Our job is to support Bold Street and celebrate its diversity and not make irresponsible comments about students and vomit. If you want the posh, upmarket clothing stores of the 1930s "Bond Street of the North" (please!) I suggest you go back in a tardis or else visit Lord Street in Southport with your Zimmer frame.

Ian OMay 11th 2010.

Is it just me or does the fact the council have allowed Christians to trade for so long on Bold st mean they have effectively given their consent to trade? This valuable business has established itself at the top of Bold St and the council has been complicit in that process. For the council to suddenly act after such a long period of time seems wrong without at least allowing the business to continue throughout the planning consultation period. Even if that could not be done at the current site the council could have provided something suitable in the Bold St area. Disapointingly, the Council hasn't shown any goodwill in this situation, but it's not too late to do something about it. If any Council officials are reading this I would urge them to do the right thing for , Christians, there many customers, and the local businesses that rely either directly or indirectly on this fantastic family run Liverpool business. Afterall, you are Liverpool's, elected by the people of Liverpool, City council. Do the right thing!!!

Local LadMay 11th 2010.

What daft names for squares! The rope walk where ropes and cables for ships were twined, were not on posh Bold Street; they were hidden away in the industrial back streets behind Central Station.And Arthouse Square? Who or what was Arthoose?

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