WIGAN Council is considering transferring the management of all eight markets it operates to the private sector.

The council says it is reviewing the management of the markets – including the indoor one in Leigh and the outdoor ones in Leigh, Tyldesley, Hindley and Atherton – in a bid to secure them a brighter future.

Options include transferring the management of the three main markets (Wigan, Leigh and Ashton) to an external operator, establishing a new body to manage the markets and a community asset transfer.

Letting local market traders’ associations run the markets and continuing to manage them itself are other options being considered by the council.

Stall holders at the markets are being urged to give their views to the council on the current management arrangements and the potential of an external operator taking responsibility for the markets.

The council has sent them a questionnaire to fill out and is asking stall holders to take part in drop-in sessions arranged at the markets.

Cllr David Molyneux, cabinet member for regeneration, said: “The Wigan borough’s markets are an important part of our retail offer, contributing to the success of our town centres as well as our local identity.

“The aim of this review is to establish the best management models for each market to ensure they can prosper in the years ahead.

“In carrying out the review we are responding to feedback from market traders urging us to engage with the private sector in the future direction of the markets.

“We are pleased to be able to take this forward and explore the opportunities this presents.

“We want to explore for the benefit of all parties, including customers and traders, if there are new ways the markets can operate which will help them thrive and be sustainable into the future.”

The council says the level of commercial interest among private sector operators in running and investing in the borough’s markets will be established prior to a final decision on future operating arrangements being made.

It added that significant private sector investment in other markets in the region has resulted in increased popularity, both with the public and traders, securing long term viability and contributing to regeneration and economic growth.

As part of The Deal the council says it is working with partners in the private sector, charitable sector and the community where possible to help deliver improved services while meeting savings targets.

Leigh's outdoor market is in the process of being from moved Albion Street to a central strip on Bradshawgate, giving it increased visibility and improving access to stalls.

The relocation of the outdoor market will pave the way for an improved entrance to the indoor market and the Spinning Gate Shopping Centre.