Oct 30 2008 By Fraser Wilson
GLASGOW'S historic Paddy's Market is set for a local authority overhaul after councillors voted to take over the site's leases on Tuesday.
Traders at the 150-year-old flea market protested outside the city chambers before Tuesday's D-Day meeting of the executive committee where the closure of the historic venue was confirmed. Stallholders will now enter a six-month notice period before the facility is revamped under the stewardship of Glasgow City Council.
Councillors voted 11-5 to carry an original recommendation to take over the leases from site owners Network Rail for a price of £100,000 a year.
That decision had been called in by members of the opposition SNP and Green Party groups who were concened about vacant possession of the market's arches and a lack of a business plan.
Worried traders demanded the right to re-negotiate their leases under the council's management.
Customers also lent their support to Tuesday's demo.
They wanted guarantees that Paddy's would continue in its current form as a flea market no matter who was in charge of the leases.
Speaking after the meeting, the SNP's Craig Mackay, member for Anderston/City and who has backed the traders in their fight for survival said: "Progress has been made.
"We want continuity at the market and the traders will now enter a six month notice period from Network Rail in which we hope they will be able to negotiate a new lease with the council."
The council's proposed agreement with Network Rail would see them paying £100,000 a year for five years to manage the leases.
The plans have caused outrage in Paddy's community, particularly after one prominent councillor dubbed the stalls a "crime ridden midden".
But rising drug abuse, violence and illegal trading in the area has been cited as a reason to close the market in its present form.
The council want to overhaul Paddy's and revamp it with arts and crafts stalls as part of the Merchant City's cultural quarter.
A spokesman for Glasgow City Council said: "We want to accomodate the legitimate traders as far as possible."
Councillor George Ryan, Executive Member for Development and Regeneration, said: "The takeover of the lease by the council would lift the whole area, fitting in with the regeneration of the Clyde and the Merchant City and eradicating the antisocial element."