Traders fear for market future

TRADERS have warned that a market's long-term future could be put in jeopardy by a rent rise for stallholders and parking charge rises.Market trader Paul Godden, who trades at Stowmarket on Saturdays with his bicycle stall, is angry that traders are suffering a "double whammy''.

TRADERS have warned that a market's long-term future could be put in jeopardy by a rent rise for stallholders and parking charge rises.

Market trader Paul Godden, who trades at Stowmarket on Saturdays with his bicycle stall, is angry that traders are suffering a "double whammy''.

Stowmarket's market pitch rates are going up from April from £1.45 a foot to £1.50 from the town council. Shoppers and traders that use the car parks are facing huge rises for car parking from Mid Suffolk District Council, which is under pressure to raise more revenue to keep council tax rises low.

The steepest proposal under discussion by the district council for car parking in the town is £8 for more than four hours at the Meadow Centre and Iliffe(crrct) Way car parks, an increase of £4.50. A decision will be reached on the car parking rises in March.

Mr Godden said: "I have spoken to several people on the market about the rates going up and the car parking going up and people feel its taking the mickey.

"Why should it cost as much at Stowmarket as Bury St Edmunds, when Stowmarket does not have as many customers as Bury?

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"We are told the market compares with others like Sudbury and Bury, but the people coming passed are half as many. We could go and work the big markets for the same money.''

Mary Hughes, who runs a flower stall, said: "Rent rises just make life that much more difficult, and will not encourage new traders in. The car parking charges are horrendous, the councils should be encouraging people.''

Her mother Carol Elsden, who works on the pitch two days a week and has been trading in the town for 30 years, said the rent rise sounded modest but would hit traders with large pitches.

But Neville Tye, market officer for Stowmarket Town Council, said: "Obviously traders never like to pay any more than they need to, but most have accepted it as just a normal inflationary rise.

"We carried out a survey and our rates are in line with the majority of them.

Normally we have a waiting list for traders to get on to the market, and not many markets can say that.''

Traders who park their vehicles on the market will face a modest rise, up from £3.50 to £3.60, but those who park in the public car parks are facing steeper rises.

There is a free park for lorries in the town, but some way from the town centre and traders say it is not practical for them.

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