Traders at Derry’s Bedlam market have spoken of their frustration and anger after it was announced that the Heritage Lottery will fund a renovation of the building they currently occupy to make it a Family Justice Centre, run by Women’s Aid.
Speaking on behalf of the 10 strong collective of traders who make up the quirky mall in the heart of the city’s Cathedral Quarter on Pump Street, Elayne McNicholl said: “Nobody has spoken to us. Nobody has consulted us.
“No one has taken into consideration the fact we are here - and have been here for three years.
“We consider herself very much a part of the local community - and we are very proud of being part of the regeneration of the Cathedral quarter.”
Ms McNicholl said the traders were shocked to hear news reports of the funding for the new justice centre - which was announced just over a week ago.
“I should make it clear that we think the justice centre is a great idea. The majority of people working in Bedlam are women and are great supporters of Women’s Aid.
“Indeed many of the businesses we operate fall within the plans for the family justice centre - but no one has come to talk to us. And no one has spoken with our landlord on this issue.”
She added that the wording of the pressure release, which stated the building was “is in a serious state of disrepair and in urgent need of restoration” was also worrisome to the sitting tenants.
“We run the building with health and safety in mind. It is safe and we have kept the area which we occupy in a good state of repair.
“What we want people to know is that we are here still, we are still open for business and we are proud to be a part of the local community.
“It would have been nice, and respectful, if someone had consulted us on these plans instead of completely disregarding us.
“We feel completely disenfranchised but what we want people to know is that no matter what happens, and if we are moved, Bedlam will continue to exist and to grow.”
The plans announced last week came on the back of a £1.4m funding boost to renovate the building which was former Sisters of Mercy Convent and originally built as a hotel.