Market traders fear upgrade costs after £4.6m revamp

Philip Blake at H Blakes Butchers

Philip Blake has been on the market for 50 years and his family has been there for 99 years. - Credit: James Weeds

A council has insisted it "does not want to lose" market traders after a multi-million pound revamp project prompted fears of prohibitive moving costs - with some claiming it could cost as much as £35,000.

A redevelopment of Great Yarmouth's historic Market Place is a key part of the borough council's vis

A redevelopment of Great Yarmouth's historic Market Place is a key part of the borough council's vision to regenerate the town centre Picture: GYBC - Credit: Archant

The ongoing £4.6m redevelopment of Great Yarmouth's market place, being managed by Great Yarmouth Borough Council (GYBC), has been met with praise as a potential boost to the town.

However, some traders feel the project is too costly for them after they were told they must upgrade some equipment and fittings before moving.

Philip Blake, 63, owner of H Blake Butchers, said he may have to close rather than pay the moving costs.

"The stalls aren't up to what we need, and we have to buy all the fittings we had before," he said.

"I won't be relocating. Not now."

Mr Blake, whose family have operated on the market place since 1922, says he will have to buy new fridges to fit the units of the new build, at a cost of around £35,000.

Mel Wilson at Barries tea stall

Mel Wilson has been running Barrie's tea stall for 16 years. - Credit: James Weeds

Mel Wilson, 47, whose family have run Barrie's tea stall since 1950, will be moving into the new build.

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However, she feels unhappy about having to upgrade equipment she already has, which won't be suitable in the new units.

Mrs Wilson said: "The council said it was providing us a unit and a counter.

"But my business isn't a counter. It's a hot plate and my boiler.

"It does feel like they're taking our businesses off us and they're giving us an empty unit."

Some traders said the borough council had offered them up to £10,000 to help with the move.

But Sheila Oxtoby, chief executive of GYBC, said: "The £10,000 is not an incentive to leave.

"It is what the traders are entitled to for us changing their leases."

Jane Beck, head of property and asset management at GYBC, said: "All the way along, this has been about taking the traders with us."

Sheila Oxtoby

Sheila Oxtoby, chief executive of Great Yarmouth Borough Council. - Credit: Archant

Ms Beck said the council have listened to traders' concerns and altered the scheme to make it as easy as possible.

"But, it's not a fair playing field, as for every trader, the cost of moving is different," Ms Beck added.

The council is offering an interest-free loan to help spread out initial costs to traders for the relocation.

Ms Oxtoby said: "Any trader can come in and talk us about their concerns. We don't want to lose them."