LIVERPOOL'S markets have gone back into public ownership today as the the city council signed a divorce deal with Geraud Markets worth just £1.
It has taken over all market activities with immediate effect after formally ending its 13-year-old joint venture deal with the French owned giant.
Regeneration supremo Councillor Malcolm Kennedy described it as a watershed moment and spoke of the city's various market stalls as a major asset.
"The move complements the council’s ongoing programme to invest in market facilities on a 'spend to earn' basis," said Liverpool City Council.
All staff previously employed by the joint venture, which has ran all markets under the council’s charter since 2003, will continue to be employed under the new company – Liverpool Markets Ltd.
Councillor Malcolm Kennedy (pictured), Cabinet Member for Regeneration, said on Facebook: "I spoke to the elected traders reps this morning and they are delighted with the news that Liverpool City Council have brought the markets back in house. One member of staff at Edge Lane thanked me and said 'I have my life back'.
He added that Kirkdale Councillor Joe Hanson had told him it was "the only decent thing I've done in the past 20 years. Even if that's true it's been worth it".
The council says it has already invested millions into its markets - the relocated Great Homer Street market (Greatie, which opened in 2014) - which went to make way for Priject Jennifer - and the revamped St Johns Market, which is due to open in November complete with its One Stop Shop. The Wholesale Fruit and Vegetable market in Edge Lane is also set to move to a new location to free up the site for "wider regeneration purposes".
In a statement, Cllr Kennedy added: "This deal is a watershed moment in the history of Liverpool’s markets and ensures they will once again become a major asset in our flourishing retail sector.
‘’As a city council we are investing millions in upgrading the facilities and the time had come to take back full control of the operations.
‘’As a result of this new deal we will be able to host, manage, promote and deliver the markets in-house and ensure a standard of quality befitting the new facilities that we are investing in.
‘’This new approach will give current tenants, future traders and customers a single point of contact that will enable us to improve the market offer right across the board from farmer’s markets, international markets and the Christmas markets.’’
Ah yes, the Christmas Markets.