Liverpool City Council shuts down St Johns Market

St Johns Market in Liverpool has been in existence for more than 200 years but on Monday the city council closed it with immediate effect due to £1.7m in unpaid rent. Tony McDonough reports

St Johns Market
Elliot Street entrance of St Johns Market in Liverpool. Picture by Liverpool City Council


Liverpool City Council has closed down Liverpool’s 200-year-old St Johns Market with “immediate effect” due to £1.7m in unpaid rent and service charges.

It means the tenancies of the 43 traders will cease. The authority said there had been a “lengthy period of communication” with the traders over the unpaid rents which date back to August 2020.

Council officials had offered the business owners the option of negotiation over the repayment of the debt, but “regrettably did not receive a meaningful response”. The market is leased from St Johns Shopping centre which is unaffected by the move.

A market was first held at the location in 1822. For the past half century it has been based within the shopping centre. In 2017 the market was refurbished at a cost of £2m.

The city council said on Monday it was having to pay £1m to subsidise the market and that this was no longer affordable.

All of the businesses will be invited to arrange a date and time with the council to collect their stock. One business has been making payments throughout this period and the council will look to undertake negotiations to relocate that stall.

Cllr Nick Small, Cabinet member for City Development, said: “Regrettably, even after reminders were issued regarding the legal situation over non-payment of monies, the council has been left with no option but to close St Johns Market.

“The business owners have now been informed of the situation and will be invited to collect their stock. The council has also offered assistance to help find alternative retail locations for those who wish to continue to operate in the city centre.

“The council has made this decision to close the stalls very reluctantly, every non-paying business owner was given plenty of time and opportunity to enter into a meaningful dialogue.”


Nick Small
Cllr Nick Small, Cabinet member for City Development


Liverpool City Council says it wrote to the non-paying businesses in October last year informing them that all outstanding monies were due. It also confirmed that any arrears incurred between July 2017 and August 2020 had been written off.

A reminder was then sent in January, with an adjoining letter inviting the 43 non-paying businesses to enter meaningful negotiations, within a 30-day deadline.

Despite further correspondence being issued reminding the business owners of the need to confirm payment on an individual basis, “no plausible offer was forthcoming”.

An offer of repayment and for future rent costs to be set at 33% was sent to the council but was deemed unviable given the scale of the debts owed.

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“Given the annual cost to the council of leasing the site for the market is around £1m a year, it is no longer a viable situation for the businesses to continue to pay no rent, service charges and to offer only a repayment offer of 33% for past and future costs,” added Cllr Small.

“Each non-paying business owner owes tens of thousands of pounds to the council and we cannot continue to subsidise their businesses.

“We have a duty to collect and it’s not fair to continue in this way when we have vital services to protect and other businesses across the city are fully paying their way.”

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