Council says market stall rise has had no impact but stall holder disagrees

PUBLISHED: 12:25 23 July 2012

stock, ian huntley, jim paice, john bridge, avril hayter-smith, jonathan james,

stock, ian huntley, jim paice, john bridge, avril hayter-smith, jonathan james,

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EAST Cambs Council says raising pitch fees for stall holders on Ely Market has had little of the negative impact predicted by traders.

Some traders insist it is a different story and say they are paying more than ever for a poor service.

The decision to introduce a £10 charge to erect stalls on the Saturday craft and farmers’ markets – and to withdraw the supply of stalls on Thursday markets - was made by the council in 2010.

Two years on and Tracy Harding, the council’s tourism and town centre leader, told the community and environment committee: “The withdrawal of stall hire on the Thursday market has had little impact and the market has maintained its 100 per cent occupancy rate.

“The farmers market continues to have an average of 90 per cent occupancy throughout the year allowing for the low season, which is expected due to the seasonality of produce.

“The craft market has increased its permanent traders to 75 per cent occupancy and now runs with 15 per cent casuals. This means that the market runs at 90 per cent capacity, whereas before it was 75 per cent.”

Craft and collectibles trader Chris Davis felt the council had little interest in helping traders.

He said: “Fred Brown promised there would be 140 stalls waiting to come on to the market when he was the council leader, but where are they?

“The reality is that the council do what they want. They are taking an extra £10 a week for the same service and they seem to be plugging the gaps on the craft market with food stalls.

“A new trader looking to get onto the market is looking to pay £30 every week and if it’s a bad day and you only take £40 it just isn’t viable.”

In the report put before councillors on Tuesday, it was proposed to raise 12ft stall prices for casual traders from £27.57 to £30 in a bid to encourage them to sign up as a regular trader. The price of 8ft stalls will also increase from £18.40 to £20.

Figures released by the authority showed that income from the markets had risen from £18,443 in 2010/11 to £52,084 in 2011/12.

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