Wigan council will spend £4 million transforming the town’s struggling market - though some traders remain unconvinced by the proposals.
The market could relocate to a more central and accessible location as part of the investment, which will link with wider efforts to regenerate the town centre.
Public Wi-Fi, more seats and signage, a new lick of paint for vacant units and themed markets have been promised for the existing market hall.
But for stallholders seeking cheaper rents - including one who says his stall has been overrun by breeding pigeons and rats - the investment has fallen short of expectations.
The future of the market will also depend on the £125 million overhaul of The Galleries shopping centre, with Wigan council searching for a developer to take it on.
With an appointment not expected until next year, the council opted to provide short-term improvements - many of which were requested by traders.
Coun David Molyneux, leader of Wigan council, said: “Wigan Market is a key part of the town and its history.
“In line with our commitment to working openly with traders we want to improve the market offer so it can thrive in the future.”
The announcement has been met with a frosty reception from market traders who had been hoping for their rents to be lowered.
Wigan council had been asked to consider dropping the fees by 30 per cent at a meeting in September, with traders told to expect an answer in mid-December.
The rent review was delayed once the general election was called, and traders were told by letter on Monday that a reduction in rents was not financilally viable.
Steve Butler, who has run Steve’s Records in the market for 31 years, said: “I just feel we’ve been treated with contempt because the council didn’t even bother telling us face to face.
“I know one trader who won’t open the letter because he’s so disgusted.”
Wigan council offered a 24 per cent rent reduction in 2017/18 and several rent-free periods in recent years. Traders can also get a 50 per cent rate reduction if they take on an additional stall.
But Mr Butler said: “It’s not good enough. The council knows we’re struggling.
“The things they’re promising, like painting the stalls, is something we should expect seeing as paying for their upkeep.
“There’s pigeons breeding in the market. I’ve had rats in my stall and I’ve had to put traps down.
“Footfall is just awful. The market is like Death Valley most days.”
Wigan council would not be drawn on a specific place where the market could be relocated, but Coun Paul Maiden believes The Galleries should not be a consideration.
Bought by the local authority last year, the shopping centre has also been plagued by low footfall and high vacancy rates.
“There’s nowhere to go, the traders won’t want to move somewhere where the footfall is worse,” said Coun Maiden.
“The only other alternative would be to whittle the stalls down so what is left it can be moved anywhere.”
Becca Heron, the council’s director of economy and skills, said the council was losing money by running the market but would continue to support its local traders.
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“Like many others across the country, the market has faced challenges over recent years because of pressures in the retail sector.
“It is not financially viable to offer further rental discounts to stallholders. In comparison to other markets in the region, we offer one of the cheapest rates.
“We are committed to supporting our local economy and helping our market to develop, which is demonstrated by our previous and current incentives and discounts."