MP Richard Fuller has accused the “stall sprawl” of Bedford market of putting off potential buyers for the former BHS building.
Six months after the prime position store shut, it is still empty and seemingly generating no firm interest from other High Street brands.
Mr Fuller, MP for Bedford and Kemspton, believes the growing row of market stalls obscuring its front windows could be partly to blame.
“It can hardly impress a potential buyer for them to see their store front blocked every Saturday and Wednesday by a row of market stalls rented out by the council,” he said.
“If this is the Mayor’s dismal vision for our town centre can it be any wonder that store fronts remain vacant?The Mayor must think against about this ‘stall sprawl, outline a more positive vision and become creative and supportive of hard-pressed town centre shops and businesses.”
Deputy Lib Dem leader Henry Vann leapt to the defence of Mayor Dave Hodgson – and the market.
He said: “Richard Fuller’s government is planning to close our magistrates’ court, threatening to downgrade our hospital and slashing funding for care for the elderly...
“Rather than actually fight for Bedford on these issues, instead Richard Fuller runs down our market and our successful market traders. By contrast, Mayor Dave has ensured that the council is engaging with the landlord and potential operators of the BHS site to bring a new store for the town as soon as possible.”