Market stallholders in Stevenage are grappling with reduced footfall after the town’s old bus station was knocked down, a councillor has claimed.

Councillor Phil Bibby asked leaders whether they have any plans to raise shopper numbers at the 50-year-old centre.

Borough council leader Cllr Richard Henry said there “is no evidence” of a decline at Stevenage Indoor Market.

At a meeting on Wednesday, January 24, Conservative Group leader Cllr Bibby told cabinet members: “I’ve had feedback or complaints from stallholders in the indoor market about the reduced footfall following the siting of the bus interchange.

“This is particularly about older people, less mobile people.

“I’m wondering, what can the council do with stallholders to actually improve their businesses with increasing footfall and catering for people who can’t walk from the interchange to the indoor market?”

Stevenage Interchange opened in summer 2022 at a location less than 200m away from the old bus station, which is now an event space.

In spring 2023, the Comet reported vintage and retro collectables store Monkey’s Emporium had shut for the final time because “business in the market never really improved” after the Covid-19 pandemic when “footfall decreased dramatically”.

Shopkeeper Daniel Emery warned “there is a lack of advertising for the market”.

Monkey’s Emporium reopened in Whitehorse Street, Baldock later the same year.

The Comet: Daniel Emery relocated his store from Stevenage's Indoor Market to a unit in BaldockDaniel Emery relocated his store from Stevenage's Indoor Market to a unit in Baldock (Image: Daniel Emery)

After the market’s 50th birthday in December 2023, Sally Green of Southern Carpets told the BBC: “People do struggle to start a business in the climate we’re in, so if we concentrate on what we do well and keep going with that, hopefully more and more people will see us through social media and the events we do will increase the footfall.”

Responding to Cllr Bibby’s quesiton, the borough’s Labour leader Cllr Henry said: “As far as I’m aware, there’s no evidence to support what you’re saying but I’ll work with [Cllr Jeannette Thomas, deputy leader] and we’ll have a look at that.

“I’ve not had any complaints from the markets or stallholders … but I’ll have a look into it.”