COUNCILLORS are calling for a better relationship between Oxford City Council and Covered Market traders.

In a motion backed by Lib Dem, Green and Labour councillors, Lib Dem councillor Jim Campbell will call for the council to address a ‘lack of trust’ between the authority and tenants.

The motion, to be heard by the council on Monday, is also critical of the market not being featured in Christmas promotional material, while the newly-outsourced Gloucester Green market is advertised in the council’s Your Oxford newspaper.

Last month proposals for the market prepared by consultancy The Retail Group were announced, including a £4m expansion with an extra storey and rooftop cafe. The council said it would think seriously about the proposals and traders broadly welcomed the plans.

Mr Campbell, Lib Dem spokesman for the market, said the motion, backed by Green Elise Benjamin and Labour’s Mary Clarkson, was a way of drawing attention to the issue.

He added: “I am alerting the council, and to a certain extent the traders, to the fact the market doesn’t feature high enough on the council’s list of important places to support.

“We want to highlight the importance of the report by The Retail Group and get as much publicity as we can while the consultation is open and encourage the public to take part.

“We want to make sure the council in future seeks to promote the market more proactively than it has in the past.”

The Retail Group’s report criticised the market as being “invisible, dark and dated”.

Mr Campbell said: “What really concerns me is not so much blaming anyone for what has and hasn’t happened in the past, but to make sure we get a much better working relationship and that both the council and traders up their game and work more collaboratively than they have done.

“Some of the traders have been too quick to blame the council rather than thinking about what they themselves could do to improve the quality of their display and the way they market themselves.”

Covered Market Traders’ Association secretary Sandie Griffith, who owns the Jemini flower shop, said the fact Gloucester Green featured more prominently in council literature “said a lot” about the council’s attitude to the Covered Market.

She said: “It fits with what the report said. There is going to be a Christmas market in Broad Street selling the sort of things which are sold here.”

City executive member for development Colin Cook said: “I think this is an unhelpful motion and I suspect it will be voted down.

“At a time when people are trying to pull together to improve the market we should be playing to its strengths.”

The council is the landlord for the market and Mr Cook said a rent review for traders was still in arbitration.

The council’s consultation on The Retail Group’s proposals ends on November 29.