Rates slashed in half to halt town market decline
- Credit: Nick Butcher
Rates are to be slashed in half at a town market in a bid to halt a decline in stall-holders.
Great Yarmouth Borough Council has agreed to cut charges from £1 per square foot to 50p per square foot for permanent traders at the two-day market in the town centre.
The current rate of £1 for regular traders was introduced in April, following the failure of a last-ditch attempt by the Labour group to extend a 50p per foot experimental discount period.
But renewed plans for the scheme, this time proposed by Conservative councillors, prompted a row which saw the Labour group leader hitting out at them for previously voting against the extension.
At the policy and resources committee on Tuesday, October 15, councillors were told trader numbers at the two-day market had fallen, with long term stall-holders retiring and casual traders moving on.
A report said the average number of long-term traders had fallen from 25 in winter 2017/18 to 15 this summer.
Committee members were asked to approve a lower rate of 80p per foot, with a fixed £3 electricity charge.
But Conservative Graham Plant proposed a further reduction to 50p per foot, with the move seconded by Paul Wells.
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"What's being proposed today is in the middle of what we've done in the past," Mr Plant said. "I'm proposing we go back down to 50p again, the reason being it did help a little bit at the time."
He added that he hoped cutting the rate would boost the market.
Mr Wells said: "We have to accept that the market is having difficult times and find ways to help traders recover some growth and become more competitive."
But Labour group leader Trevor Wainwright said: "We've got councillors Plant and Wells sitting there saying 'this is a great idea'. Your group fought tooth and nail to keep that charge up.
"We advocated we left it to 50p - you wanted it to be £1.30. Your group put the charges up."
He added: "We all support the market traders. For you to be sitting there saying we should reduce it - you change your mind as the wind."
The council's head of property Jane Beck said the further reduction could see the council making a loss of up to £32,000, as it could not predict whether traders would take on extra stall space.
The council voted for the amended rate of 50p.