Market fears are eased
FEARS about the future of Halesworth's weekly market have eased following a meeting last nightbetween traders and Waveney District Council officials.The relationship between the district council and market traders in north Suffolk has been at an all-time low since new rent structures were introduced earlier this year.
FEARS about the future of Halesworth's weekly market have eased following a meeting last nightbetween traders and Waveney District Council officials.
The relationship between the district council and market traders in north Suffolk has been at an all-time low since new rent structures were introduced earlier this year.
Because of an administrative error by council officials in 1994, rents have not increased in line with inflation, and when this mistake was recognised this year it led to traders seeing their rent go up by more than 300%.
Many market traders in Halesworth, Beccles and Southwold, were threatening to leave the area rather than pay the new rents.
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Traders also refused to pay the new rents and were threatened with legal action by district council officials.
Letters sent by Waveney District Council informed the existing traders that there were other potential stallholders wanting to take their place who were prepared to pay the new rents.
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In Halesworth hundreds of local people signed a petition calling on the district council to change its mind over introducing the new rents.
The town council was so concerned about the possibility of Halesworth losing its weekly market that it arranged a special meeting, held last night, so that both sides in the dispute could explain their position to one another.
"The market is not only extremely popular with many people in the town, it also brings in visitors that support our shops and businesses.
"Many of the existing market traders have been coming to Halesworth for many years and have built up a good relationship with local people," said Sandra Leverett, of Halesworth Town Council, which helped set up the meeting.
Following what was described as "a very positive and constructive meeting" the town council is to present Waveney District Council with a list of the grievances felt by traders.
There will then be a full review of the situation with both sides fully informed of what is going on.
"No new charges are being introduced until both sides are in agreement and in the meantime all threat of legal action against the traders is postponed while the review takes place," said Mrs Leverett.
Speaking after the meeting the market traders said they were "very happy" with the outcome and were looking forward to continuing to visit Halesworth every week.
One long-standing trader, who had earlier been informed that his pitch on the market had been taken over by a new stallholder and there was no longer any room for him, was also given some good news.
Waveney officials told Nigel Skipper that there was now room for him to continue to trade with his housewares, garden and DIY stall as he has done for the past seven years.