Market Traders Protest Against Pitch Fees

MARKET traders in Ely have hit out at the district council over a proposed rise in their pitch fees which they say could force them out of business.

MARKET traders in Ely have hit out at the district council over a proposed rise in their pitch fees which they say could force them out of business.

Traders on the Saturday craft and collectables market say East Cambridgeshire District Council (ECDC) has put forward plans for a �48-a-month increase in their pitch fees which, they say, amounts to a 67 per cent rise on their current fee.

The traders believe the increase is unsustainable and have said that as many as 20 of them may well be forced to give up their pitch.

Stallholder Chris Davies, told the Ely Standard: “We feel like the council are going to put us out of work, we would have been happy to consider a small increase but they have done it at such an unbelievable level.

“We won the battle with them in February but now I think they are trying to make the stallholders pay. We never wanted a review carried out, we just wanted to carry on as normal.”

According to traders, the council has also proposed that traders sign up to a minimum 12-month pitch agreement.

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Soham trader Mick Stimson, said: “This craft and collectables market is unique. I can’t image what it would be like on a Saturday if we weren’t here.”

“If the fees go up by �40 or �50 many of the traders won’t be able to afford to carry on and we can’t transport our own stalls because most of us don’t have big enough vehicles.

“I think perhaps some people at the council should take a pay cut.”

At a full council meeting in February plans to stop erecting stalls on the market were scrapped at the last minute amid a legal challenge from traders.

The district council said it needed to introduce the changes to the market to plug a �30,000 hole in its budget for 2010/11.

Leader of the council, Fred Brown, said: “We are in the middle of the second round of consultation and it is very important that traders have their say on the draft improvement plan. These are incredibly difficult times for the public sector with more and more pressure on our budgets so we believe the solution is to work together. However, let us be very clear, these proposals will not signal the end of Ely markets. We have a strong and vibrant collection of markets as the 10 years of the Farmers Market proves and we will continue to work in it’s best interests.

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