BUSINESS leaders in Halesowen are opposing plans to extend the street market to every Saturday, fearing it will hit retail sales and stop special events in the town centre.

Chamber of Trade members are worried it will become a general market - and claim current restrictions are being flouted with fewer farmers’ and craft stalls.

Cornbow Shopping Centre manager Eve O’Connor reported to members at their last meeting that an inventory revealed 26 general stalls had been noted.

The market has permission for 25 farmers’ and craft stalls plus 10 general stalls, but she said goods being sold included copy sunglasses and CDs.

Chairman Steve Fitzpatrick said Halesowen was not a market town and whereas a farmers’ market would attract people in to buy quality produce and then visit shops, general market stalls could take trade away from retailers.

“People only have so much money to spend and overheads for market traders are very different from people trading from shops,” he added.

The chamber was also concerned that extending the market from every second, fourth and fifth Saturday in the month to weekly, would stop events such as the Victorian Fair, Halesowen-By-The-Sea, St George’s Day celebrations and the occasional French market from taking place.

But market operator Steve Evans, of Bescot Promotions, promised he would cancel the market for any town event.

He also strenuously denied allowing more than 10 general stalls to have pitches.

“I know every stall on that market and I would not flout the restriction. On markets all over the country it’s possible that sometimes stallholders sell things that are not kosher and it’s our job to make sure if they do to stop them.”

He added: “ People always object when something is new - some people get nervous, but there is no reason to. If I do get permission I do not want to turn it into a general market.”

Dudley Council’s licencing committee will consider the application to extend the market on Tuesday, April 17.