MARKET traders locked in dispute over conditions at The Shambles in Devizes have complained that they feel brushed aside in their calls for an immediate clean-up of the building.

They have accused Devizes Town Council of using delaying tactics and wasting public money on studies of what work needs to be done.

Although the council recently decided to set aside up to £80,000 for improvements to the tatty old indoor market and to cover the cost of investigating what role The Shambles has within a wider plan for the future of the Market Square, the traders say they believe the market has been deliberately neglected in order to set it up as not fit for purpose, and therefore needing modernisation.

They have issued issued a lengthy statement expressing their feelings and calling for an end to the back-biting about parties involved in The Shambles issue, which has intensified on social media.

They said: “Following the council meetings of 12th and 14th October, the overall feeling of the Shambles traders is one of disappointment. The continual batting of the issue back and forth between different work streams just appears to be a further delaying tactic, as does the formation of two separate working parties.

“It was felt that the concerns of traders were brushed aside and the main aim of the meeting was to announce the formation of these two working parties without listening to anything that was put before them at this point.

“We understand the need to look into the near and long term future of the Shambles, but to have recommendations from these investigations drawn up by different groups just leaves it open to disparate and disjointed conclusions.

“The Shambles future relies upon a cohesive and unified project with clear aims and objectives taking account of the listed building constraints and public need.

“The Health and Safety concerns and the cleanliness should have been addressed from the outset, instead it just feels like the building has been deliberately neglected to provide evidence of its inability to perform its current function; giving rise to the proposed solution of pie in the sky objectives that require thousands of pounds of tax payer’s money just to investigate the feasibility of a scheme that the public may not want in the first place.

“Interim quick fixes (such as the rapid provision of an inferior first aid box) are inadequate and further endorse the feeling of the traders that their opinions do not matter.

“The traders provided their own report taking into account, the short, medium and long term vision for The Shambles, much of which was endorsed by the original working party.

It added: “The move to go off and get quotes on several aspects just delays thing further. Priorities need to be addressed. Health and Safety concerns need to be addressed now. A deep clean needs to be carried out now and once completed maintained to that standard. The extractor requirements need to be addressed now. We need suitable tables, preferably the sturdy wooden ones refurbished rather than left to rot in outside storage. Promotion needs to be addressed now, to attract Christmas visitors and trade to the town.

“Of course, we understand that council budgets are tight, but this cannot be an excuse for not addressing safety and hygiene concerns. We have all suffered as a result of Covid, and have been unable to trade, but the deterioration of the standards within the building was allowed to proceed before this. Not forgetting that what sparked the furore in the first place recently was the request for the council to spend £20,000 on architects etc and feasibility studies.

“Unfortunately, with social media as it is and feelings running high, certain individual members of the public have taken the opportunity to degenerate the matters at hand into name-calling, with digs at individual traders and the manager; this just detracts from the serious issues and concerns we are trying to get across and only adds to frustrations on both sides.”