Kingston ancient market to re-open on Monday

Kingston's ancient market place will partly re-open on Monday

Kingston's ancient market place will partly re-open on Monday

First published in News Surrey Comet: Photograph of the Author by , Deputy editor

Traders will finally move back into Kingston’s ancient market place next week, as the overdue £3m project to redevelop the historic site finally nears completion.

Almost two months later than originally planned, Kingston Council has announced it will once again be business as usual at the iconic market come Monday, May 19.

Stall holders were temporarily relocated to Memorial Gardens in February in order to stop the project from overrunning, and initialy told they would be back by April 13. 

One month later, and large areas of the market still looked unfinished when Brandon Lewis, parliamentary under secretary for communities and local government, visited Kingston for the UK launch of national Love Your Local Market fortnight on Wednesday.

Nevertheless, Mr Lewis said: “It’s really impressive. Even on the temporary market there’s a great buzz and a really good mix of different offers.

“It’s a great place and hopefully it will be here for a long time to come.”

Surrey Comet:

Brandon Lewis, left, is shown around the new market place

But shoppers were just glad to see the end.

Kingston resident Pat Coen said: “I feel it’s gone on forever.

“It was a great pity it wasn’t finished in time for the May Merrie – it was so fragmented this year.”

Tony Goshawk, market spokesman and owner of Tony’s Fruit Stall, said he was “positive and optimistic”, about the move.

He said: “It has been hard, it has been difficult, but if we didn’t move out it would have taken even longer.”

Surrey Comet:

Kingston Council inisits the site will be ready for the market traders by Monday

Zhivka Lawrence, manager of Olivier’s Bakery, said: “It has been hard, but we have to work together and I’m very positive.”

The project has been hit by a number of setbacks, including the discovery of a shallow gas pipe beneath Church Street that needed to be decommissioned before being capped and paved over.

That delay alone was believed to have put the scheme back by three or four weeks.

Bizarrely, a spokesman for Kingston Council repeatedly insisted the work was being finished on schedule.

He said: “The project is on track for its target completion date at the end of this month.”

But in a letter to councillors dated April 15, 2013, project manager Mark Teasdale said the scheme was expected to finish by March.

A press briefing from Kingston Council and Kingston First in May that year also gave the same March date.

On Wednesday, the project website gave two finish dates – May 4 and May 19.

When the market was relocated in February, Mr Teasdale wrote a letter to traders that said: “The temporary relocation of the market will be for the seven-week period from Monday, February 24 to Sunday, April 13, by which time the new permanent market stalls in the Market Place will be ready for occupation.”

An official launch event for the new Market Place is scheduled for June 24.

Comments (3)

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11:55am Fri 16 May 14

DB says...

This has got to be the biggest illustration of incompetence to date by the Council or Kingston First or both.

This work was originally started before Christmas. If I recall correctly that was to leverage funds that would not otherwise be available if it started later. That is all well and good, but clearly the project was started too early and not planned properly which has just resulted in a longer period of inconvenience to traders and the public.

It is all very well blaming the delay on the setbacks that have been experienced, but a lot of it is actually due to the contractors just not being on site most of the time. I have NEVER seen anyone on the site on a Sunday, very rarely on a Saturday and often it is empty during the week as well.

A failing firm (Balfour Beatty) has been appointed to do the work and clearly insufficient financial penalties for late delivery are written into the contract, so they have no real incentive to prioritise this work.

This week has just made it worse. Firstly, inviting down 'dignitaries' to what was supposed to be an opening ceremony only to show them around a building site, and secondly the mixed messages about whether it is actually behind schedule or not! Of course it is behind schedule - It was supposed to be finished in April and even that was a very generous timescale for the amount of work done.

I just can't believe this is going to be ready for Monday 19th May. That is about 70 hours away as I write this message and I think Balfour Beatty would have to get half their workforce down to get it finished in that time.

I hope I am proved wrong, because I am looking foward to being able to use the Market Place again after all this time.
This has got to be the biggest illustration of incompetence to date by the Council or Kingston First or both. This work was originally started before Christmas. If I recall correctly that was to leverage funds that would not otherwise be available if it started later. That is all well and good, but clearly the project was started too early and not planned properly which has just resulted in a longer period of inconvenience to traders and the public. It is all very well blaming the delay on the setbacks that have been experienced, but a lot of it is actually due to the contractors just not being on site most of the time. I have NEVER seen anyone on the site on a Sunday, very rarely on a Saturday and often it is empty during the week as well. A failing firm (Balfour Beatty) has been appointed to do the work and clearly insufficient financial penalties for late delivery are written into the contract, so they have no real incentive to prioritise this work. This week has just made it worse. Firstly, inviting down 'dignitaries' to what was supposed to be an opening ceremony only to show them around a building site, and secondly the mixed messages about whether it is actually behind schedule or not! Of course it is behind schedule - It was supposed to be finished in April and even that was a very generous timescale for the amount of work done. I just can't believe this is going to be ready for Monday 19th May. That is about 70 hours away as I write this message and I think Balfour Beatty would have to get half their workforce down to get it finished in that time. I hope I am proved wrong, because I am looking foward to being able to use the Market Place again after all this time. DB
  • Score: 9

12:11pm Fri 16 May 14

S Leader says...

The most important thing now will be to restore our Memorial garden back to its real pupose and ensure that NEVER AGAIN is this garden allowed to be used for anything other than its original purpose of a garden of rememberance
The most important thing now will be to restore our Memorial garden back to its real pupose and ensure that NEVER AGAIN is this garden allowed to be used for anything other than its original purpose of a garden of rememberance S Leader
  • Score: 10

3:10pm Mon 19 May 14

DB says...

DB wrote:
This has got to be the biggest illustration of incompetence to date by the Council or Kingston First or both. This work was originally started before Christmas. If I recall correctly that was to leverage funds that would not otherwise be available if it started later. That is all well and good, but clearly the project was started too early and not planned properly which has just resulted in a longer period of inconvenience to traders and the public. It is all very well blaming the delay on the setbacks that have been experienced, but a lot of it is actually due to the contractors just not being on site most of the time. I have NEVER seen anyone on the site on a Sunday, very rarely on a Saturday and often it is empty during the week as well. A failing firm (Balfour Beatty) has been appointed to do the work and clearly insufficient financial penalties for late delivery are written into the contract, so they have no real incentive to prioritise this work. This week has just made it worse. Firstly, inviting down 'dignitaries' to what was supposed to be an opening ceremony only to show them around a building site, and secondly the mixed messages about whether it is actually behind schedule or not! Of course it is behind schedule - It was supposed to be finished in April and even that was a very generous timescale for the amount of work done. I just can't believe this is going to be ready for Monday 19th May. That is about 70 hours away as I write this message and I think Balfour Beatty would have to get half their workforce down to get it finished in that time. I hope I am proved wrong, because I am looking foward to being able to use the Market Place again after all this time.
I wasn't proven wrong, then :(
[quote][p][bold]DB[/bold] wrote: This has got to be the biggest illustration of incompetence to date by the Council or Kingston First or both. This work was originally started before Christmas. If I recall correctly that was to leverage funds that would not otherwise be available if it started later. That is all well and good, but clearly the project was started too early and not planned properly which has just resulted in a longer period of inconvenience to traders and the public. It is all very well blaming the delay on the setbacks that have been experienced, but a lot of it is actually due to the contractors just not being on site most of the time. I have NEVER seen anyone on the site on a Sunday, very rarely on a Saturday and often it is empty during the week as well. A failing firm (Balfour Beatty) has been appointed to do the work and clearly insufficient financial penalties for late delivery are written into the contract, so they have no real incentive to prioritise this work. This week has just made it worse. Firstly, inviting down 'dignitaries' to what was supposed to be an opening ceremony only to show them around a building site, and secondly the mixed messages about whether it is actually behind schedule or not! Of course it is behind schedule - It was supposed to be finished in April and even that was a very generous timescale for the amount of work done. I just can't believe this is going to be ready for Monday 19th May. That is about 70 hours away as I write this message and I think Balfour Beatty would have to get half their workforce down to get it finished in that time. I hope I am proved wrong, because I am looking foward to being able to use the Market Place again after all this time.[/p][/quote]I wasn't proven wrong, then :( DB
  • Score: 1

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