Norwich Market traders fear some stallholders could quit over proposed rent and service charge increases
- Credit: Archant
Traders on Norwich Market are facing rent and service charge increases - sparking a warning some stallholders might not be able to afford to stay.
Norwich City Council, the historic market's landlord, has carried out a review of the current rents and service charges - and concluded that change is needed.
However, the Norwich Market Traders Association objected to the council's initial proposal.
They say the council's first proposal would have seen some rents increase by as much as 50pc, although negotiations now mean the increases for those affected are now likely to be 15pc.
But traders remain concerned over the proposal for a 42pc service charge increase, which they warned could drive some stallholders off the market.
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Mark Wright, chairman of the Norwich Market Traders Association, who runs Taxi Vintage Clothing, said: 'When they first proposed an increase, my rent was going to go up by 63pc. I tell you, it made my legs wobble.
'The association has been negotiating with the council and we've now got it down to a 15pc increase. It's still a lot, but it's not 63pc.'
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He said negotiations over the service charge were continuing. He said the increase would add an extra £1,200 a year to what he pays for his three stalls.
He said: 'It's a massive increase and it could mean some stallholders can't afford it. We are still negotiating with the council over it.
'They are saying some of the increases are down to some of the improvements they have been making. They have been doing a good job, but for years the market was badly managed.
'They have an obligation to clean the roof canopies, for example, and they have only just started doing that.'
Traders association secretary Heather Lovering, who runs a vintage clothing stall, said the council had breached the terms of their lease with traders, in failing to provide service charge accounts for years.
But she said the current market team at City Hall was doing a better job, including by offering incentives to those with more than one stall and newcomers.
The council says it has been a decade since market rent levels and service charges were reviewed.
They say if the changes happen, then of 180 stalls, rent will remain the same on 134 stalls, increased on 30 and cut on 16.
The council says it is also consulting over a number of incentives, including rent reductions for new traders.
Roger Ryan, cabinet member for customer care and leisure, said: 'The service charge has been heavily subsidised by the council for many years and therefore needs to reflect what is being spent on the market.
'The current review considers this subsidy along with a number of new projects agreed and suggested by the traders association in relation to additional cleaning, canopy replacement and maintenance/regulation of lighting.
'As with the rental charges, the implementation of any agreed increases has yet to be discussed and agreed.'
The Evening News and Eastern Daily Press is encouraging people to support the Norwich Market through our Get Behind Your Market Campaign.