Reaction mixed as council set to curtail service charge rise at Norwich’s historic market
- Credit: Eastern Daily Press � 2016
Norwich City Council has pedalled back on proposals to hike the service charge paid by stallholders on the city's historic market.
It was revealed last month that the authority wanted to increase the charge – which covers the cost of maintenance and repairs – by 42pc.
But it is understood the charge will now only be raised by 10pc following opposition from traders, which could help some stallholders who feared it could put their livelihoods at risk.
Currently, traders pay a service charge of £76 per month on top of rent. The latest proposal to increase this by £7.60 would cost them £83.60, not £108 as originally proposed.
In a traders' handbook issued this year, it is explained the service charge contributes towards the upkeep of the automated canopies, gutters and drains. But it added the stallholders were responsible for any issues with sliding doors, and most parts of the stall roller shutters.
At present, the council could expect the service charge to raise a maximum of £170,544, when all market stalls are occupied. In 2015/16, £237,074 was spent out of the service charge budget, with £255,083 spent in 2014/15 and £185,793 in 2013/14 – leaving a shortfall. However, traders have questioned the figures.
James Read, who runs Mike, Debs and Sons fruit and vegetable stall with his parents and brother, said: 'I think 10pc is fine, they've got to go up when there's so many repairs to be doing. It's like in any commercial property, so 10pc is alright as long as things get done.'
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But Ramon Swinger, from Mr Bags, said the rise in rents and service charges had forced him to hand back one of the stalls he had.
Mr Swinger, who had been trading for more than 30 years, said: 'For what you get it's not right, we're market stall holders we are not in a shop in a mall.'
And he said things did not get fixed, such as a canopy outside his stall.
'If you took your car in for a service and the oil wasn't changed, you wouldn't pay. It's the same thing,' he said.
Previously, a Norwich City Council spokesperson said the rent on the market had not changed for the last 10 years, while the service charge had not been raised for 'several years'. They added that, in the coming months, they would be installing new benches, lights and signage.
Nobody from Norwich City Council was available for further comment.