Market Proposals Will Only Affect 20 Traders Says Council Leader

PUBLISHED: 16:14 09 February 2010 | UPDATED: 11:13 04 May 2010

IN reference to the articles and correspondence which have come in regarding changes to Ely markets, I would like to answer some of the inaccuracies which have spread and I hope allay fears. May I begin by saying that the Ely markets are not under threat

IN reference to the articles and correspondence which have come in regarding changes to Ely markets, I would like to answer some of the inaccuracies which have spread and I hope allay fears.

May I begin by saying that the Ely markets are not under threat of closure. The savings proposals we are recommending will affect a maximum of 20 traders out of more than 100.

Ely markets are strong, vibrant and the envy of the region because of the traders and those customers who flock to buy anything from fruit to collectables to ostrich burgers. We know we have a responsibility to ensure the markets remain a place people want to go.

Unfortunately, we also have to live in dire financial times. The district council is this year faced with a budget shortfall of more than £1.6 million - an unprecedented amount of money for such a small authority. In order to balance the books we have to make some very tough decisions which have affected many from our own staff to the services we provide.

No one has been immune from these cuts.

As with many other towns throughout the country we will no longer be providing stalls for the markets. This will save the council about £31,000 in staff and maintenance costs.

This is not a decision, which we have taken lightly as I am fully aware there will be some traders who rely on the service we have provided.

However, we have had to balance this with the facts. Thursday markets will see virtually no effect from our proposals as most are full time traders who currently use their own stalls. Likewise, more than 90 per cent of traders from the Farmers Market bring their own stalls. It is the Saturday crafts and collectables which is likely to be most affected.

To help those who do not have a stall, we have offered to demonstrate simple and easy to put up stalls which are available or to have a blacksmith build custom made stalls. These will cost around £150.

Should these traders unfortunately decide not to take up our offer and leave the market, we do have extensive waiting lists of traders keen to get on the market.

Yes this process is not easy and none of us would make these decisions if there wasn't great necessity. Make no mistake we will continue to work hard to support our markets and maintain its premier status.

CLLR FRED BROWN

Leader of East Cambs District Council

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