Fury at market rent hike
By David LennardTHE future of Halesworth's weekly market is in the balance after traders were threatened with legal proceedings after refusing to pay huge rent increases for their sites.
By David Lennard
THE future of Halesworth's weekly market is in the balance after traders were threatened with legal proceedings after refusing to pay huge rent increases for their sites.
For the past few weeks the market stallholders have been refusing to pay new rents introduced by Waveney District Council that has seen some charges rise from £20 to £60 per stall.
Darryl Brown, who runs a cake and sweets stall on the market, said traders had been asking to discuss the situation with council officials, but claimed no-one from the council was prepared to meet them.
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“The situation is extremely serious for the market as this week stallholders have received letters from Waveney threatening to take us to county court if we do not pay the new rents,” he added.
“We want to discuss the whole situation including the rents, sizes of stalls, and other points, but so far no-one is prepared to talk to us.”
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Many of the stallholders carried large signs yesterday urging members of the public to “Save your weekly market” and encouraging them to contact MPs John Gummer and Bob Blizzard and Waveney District Council officials.
The stallholders also had petitions for people to sign and said there had been no shortage of signatures.
“The public are right behind us and extremely supportive. They do not want to lose their market, but if Waveney are not prepared to meet us, then the vast majority of stallholders will go elsewhere and that will be the end of the market as it is now,” said Mr Brown.
Some of the market traders have been coming to Halesworth for the past 25 years and said although it will be sad to leave, they had been left with no choice.
Many traders said they would lose money if they were forced to pay the new rents at Halesworth.
A spokesman for Waveney District council said all the stallholders had been sent a letter explaining the new rents.
He added an error in calculating charges for market traders meant there had been no rent increases since 1994.
“When we discovered the error, the council could have backdated the correct rent charge to 1994,” said the spokesman.
“But because it was our error, we have written to the stallholders apologising and informing the correct rent levels will only be charged from April this year.
“The council has a duty to council taxpayers in the district to charge the correct rent and we hope that stallholders will appreciate this and that the markets in Halesworth and other towns continue to thrive.”