Market project is under fire

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An ‘insulted’ market trader has hit out at a council scheme that sees new traders paying discounted rates.

Doris Downham, 80, has been running the glass and china stall in Pontefract Market Hall for 46 years and pays £125 a week rent.

She said Wakefield Council had been renting stalls out free of charge to new traders, while loyal stallholders were still having to pay full rates despite falling incomes.

Mrs Downham, of Holywell Lane, Glass Houghton, said: “Last year I had to go in to hospital for an operation and I was forced to close my stall for eight weeks. I got in touch with the council and what they offered me as a discount was an insult.

“The new traders are getting their stalls free or discounted for a certain number of weeks. Once they have to pay full price they will probably leave the market. It is unfair on the long standing traders – especially since some of the new traders are running very similar stalls like bakeries and taking their customers.”

Lisa Dodd-Mayne, Wakefield Council’s service director for culture and sport, said: “We have listened to traders who told us in a previous survey that increasing the number of traders at markets was important to them.

“Since then, we have introduced our business start-up scheme which has been really successful in bringing in new traders by offering an initial incentive period.

“We’re sorry that Mrs Downham does not feel the new scheme is beneficial, but hope she understands that encouraging new traders into the market secures the future of the market for all the traders, by attracting new customers and improving what’s on offer at the market.

“As Mrs Downham is a long-standing trader at the market, we did offer her a half-price discounted rate when her personal circumstances meant she was unable to trade for a short period.”