Paddy''s Market to be transformed

14 Mar 2008

by Iain Lundy, Evening Times

Glasgow's Paddy's Market is to be transformed from a "crime-ridden midden" to an international tourist attraction.

The Evening Times has learned that the rundown site near the Merchant City could become a "mini-Camden Market" - London's most popular open-air market.

It's hoped the illegal traders and drug dealers who blight the market will be replaced by aspiring artists of different ethnic backgrounds.

Discussions are at an advanced stage to allow the city council to take over the lease from site owners Network Rail.

When the deal is complete, the council will clear the second-hand traders from the site in Shipbank Lane.

The council then plans to use the area to house council offices and to sub-let property to arts and business organisations.

The state of the market - which is almost 200 years old - has been causing concern in recent years, with one councillor labelling it a "crime- ridden midden".

Drug dealing has become a major problem and there is a growing number of illegal street traders.

In 2005/2006, police reported almost 850 crimes in the area, mostly for drug possession, but including one attempted murder.

Yesterday councillor George Ryan, the council's regeneration convener, said: "We are ready to conclude a deal with Network Rail to take over all the leases.

"We will be able to lift the whole area. What we want is to create a mini-Camden Market in Glasgow city centre.

"Other cities in Europe would bite your hand off for this type of opportunity.

"It's near the Clyde and all the regeneration in St Enoch and the Merchant City.

"We see this as a tourist destination, an arts and crafts market and a cultural venue.

"We have a lot of different cultures in the city now and they all might want the chance to produce some of their wares."

Councillor Ryan said he would not shut the door on some existing traders - provided they were responsible.

However, he added: "It is the death-knell for the anti-social element. We want to move all that out.

"We want to up the bar of what we expect of a market right in the heart of the city. We want to bring in a better class of retail there.

"It could be a good venue for young aspiring artists to take up space to sell their wares, with a cultural element of people from different ethnic backgrounds."

A report due to come before the council's executive committee says the level of crime at Paddy's Market "threatens to undermine the investment in the Merchant City".

The cost of addressing all the problems in the area was put last year at £277,000, which included charges by police, Customs and Excise, the city council and the Federation Against Copyright Theft.

Network Rail, which owns the arches where the market traders congregate, receives annual rent of around £130,000.

Steve Inch, the council's director of development and regeneration services, said: "Discussions have indicated it should be possible to secure the lease of Paddy's Market at a rental considerably below that charged to existing tenants.

"This reflects a recognition by Network Rail of the problems in the area and their corporate social responsibility' to help resolve them."

Local councillor Gordon Matheson, who has been closely involved in the negotiations, said he was delighted an agreement was in sight.

He added: "The community I represent has suffered for long enough and Glasgow can no longer tolerate what I've called a crime-ridden midden'."

Mr Matheson said anyone who had a sense of nostalgia for what Paddy's Market previously represented "only has to walk through it to see it has long since lost its way".

He added: "The cost of buying out the lease is very good value because the taxpayers of Glasgow are paying a small fortune to police to clean up this area.

"Glasgow has moved on and we will not be dragged down by a blight which detracts from our efforts to regenerate the city.

"We present ourselves quite rightly as a vibrant and cultural city which is a good place to live and work and visit. Paddy's Market does not fit with that ambition."

He said he hoped the area would become part of the Merchant City arts scene.

A Network Rail spokesman said: "We're in talks with the council regarding the long-term future of the market."

Reproduced with the permission of The Evening Times(Glasgow) © Newsquest (Herald & Times) Ltd.

 

  • Paddy's Market in Shipbank Lane