Hope for market row settlement

PEOPLE living and working in the Halesworth area are hoping for a last-minute settlement in a dispute between market stallholders and Waveney District Council after rents rose by more than 300%.

PEOPLE living and working in the Halesworth area are hoping for a last-minute settlement in a dispute between market stallholders and Waveney District Council after rents rose by more than 300%.

A number of stallholders who have been attending the weekly market in the town have told customers they will not be returning to Halesworth unless a compromise solution is found.

"It is a terrible situation as the Wednesday market brings in a lot of people to Halesworth," said Alex Carr of the Market Place Wine Shop.

"We are all waiting until next week to see just how many stalls will be on the market.


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"If there are only a few stalls and the market ceases to be such an attraction it will have a serious impact on all the shops in Halesworth," he said.

Stallholders spokesman Darryl Brown, who runs a cake and sweets stall on the market, is one of those who will not be attending the market for the next few weeks.

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"We have all been very upset at the attitude of the district council officials in this matter as they are insisting on us paying the huge increases in our rent but will not come and talk to us.

"I will not be coming to Halesworth for the next three weeks and I just hope the situation is sorted out in this period," said Mr Brown.

Other stallholders are believed to have decided to attend other venues on a Wednesday rather than visit Halesworth.

Petitions urging the district council to support the stallholders and save the Wednesday market have been signed by hundreds of people both at the stalls during the market and in Halesworth shops at other times.

"There is certainly no shortage of people wanting to show their support for the market," said Mr Carr.

Market stallholders at Halesworth have been refusing to pay the new rents since they were introduced in April.

Some of the stallholders saw their rents at Halesworth go up from under £20 a day to £60.

A spokesman for Waveney District Council explained that because of an "administration error" council rents had not changed since 1994.

The council is not backdating the rent increases but is asking stallholders to pay the new rate from April this year.

"The council has a duty to council tax payers 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," said the spokesman for Waveney District Council.

A number of stallholders have been attending the weekly market in Halesworth for more than 20 years but even these are seriously considering attending other Wednesday markets in Suffolk and Norfolk.

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