Work is ongoing to find room for Bury Market stores to start trading again after the indoor market hall was closed due to reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) being discovered.

Traders were told about the closure at around 7pm on Thursday after RAAC, which had been used in the construction of the building in 1971, was found in surveys of the site.

RAAC has hit the headlines this year after being discovered in schools, raising concerns about the safety of buildings. It is a cheaper alternative material to standard concrete, has a lifespan of around 30 years and it is known to be susceptible to structural failure when exposed to moisture

The market closure has affected 49 traders, who operated from 62 units. Of these, 16 units on the outside of the hall have now reopened.

Several other traders will be opening up on the outdoor market and from pop-up stalls, and the council has been in talks with the Mill Gate Shopping Centre about accommodating a number of traders in its empty units. Empty units on Princess Parade owned by the council may provide space for traders too.

The outdoor market, and fish and meat hall, have not been affected and are open as usual.

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Cllr Charlotte Morris, cabinet member for culture and the economy at the council, said: “We understand that the sudden closure of the market hall has caused great concern and worry for the traders and their staff.

“We have been working round the clock to find alternative accommodation so that they can continue to trade, and have been putting together a package of support. We are also in communication with traders every day to keep them informed.”

Financially, the council has put a hold on all rent payments and business rates.

It has also agreed to provide traders, and their employees, with an emergency package of support, including a £300 food and fuel payment, and £100 council tax credit for those who pay their council tax in the borough.

These are initial emergency payments only, and the council is working on a more substantial package of financial support to address specific costs related to the disruption.

The Growth Hub is also offering free and confidential one-to-one business advice and personal finance advice sessions.

Advice will also be provided on claiming benefits if need be, along with counselling and mental health support for those struggling to cope.

Cllr Morris added: “Despite the shock, traders have shown great understanding and resilience in coping with these unexpected events, and want to get back into business as soon as possible.

“No one wanted this to happen, but we had to act urgently following the receipt of the surveyor’s report to ensure the safety of market traders and their customers.

“Following further investigations, we will announce what remedial work needs to be done, and what the timescale for that will be.

“In the meantime, I urge everyone to show your support for our traders and continue to come to our famous market.”

More information can be found on the council's Q&A webpage about the situation. For more information click here.