Conservative councillors accused of ‘letting market traders down’ after rejecting compensation proposals

Conservative councillors in Great Yarmouth have been accused of letting market traders down. Picture

Conservative councillors in Great Yarmouth have been accused of letting market traders down. Picture: Antony Kelly - Credit: Archant

Conservative councillors in Great Yarmouth have been accused of ‘letting market traders down’ after they voted against compensating businesses who had suffered since market fees were increased earlier this year.

Traders on the two-day market in the town had previously benefited from an experimental discount which saw charges drop from £1.64 per square foot to 50p per square foot.

But in April this year, the rates were put up to £1 per square foot following a meeting of Great Yarmouth Borough Council's full council in February.

At the latest meeting of the full council at the Town Hall on Thursday, plans to halve the current fees back to 50p per square foot were agreed.

Leader of the Labour group, Trevor Wainwright, welcomed the news but also put forward an amendment to backdate the price cut to April.

However, council leader and Conservative councillor Carl Smith, said he would not support the amendment.

He said: "I do not know how much it will cost to backdate the charges so it is something I cannot support."

Mr Smith suggested the cost of the proposals were discussed at the council's Policy and Resources Committee later this month.

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A number of Labour councillors expressed their disappointment at the rejection of the amendment, which was lost following a recorded vote.

Kerry Robinson-Payne, Labour councillor for the Nelson ward, said: "You are letting the market traders down once again."

Conservative and deputy leader of the council Graham Plant hit back at criticism and said there was ample time for the costs of the proposals to have been presented at the meeting.

A report presented to councillors said the average number of long-term traders on the two-day market had fallen from 25 in winter 2017/18 to 15 this summer.

The decline in numbers was partially put down to long-term traders retiring.

A 75p per square foot cost for casual traders was also agreed at the meeting with a £3 daily electricity charge.

The council was warned the agreed changes to the market fees would cost the authority £32,000 a year.

Costs for the six-day market were not discussed but the report stated the market was in a "stable" condition and interest in pop-up facilities had increased in recent months.