Stall-holders at one of Stoke-on-Trent’s biggest markets are calling for a six-week rent-free holiday as they reopen following the coronavirus pandemic.
Longton Market reopened for the first time last Wednesday after shutting for the first 12-weeks of lockdown.
It meant traders had to resort to deliveries or stop trading altogether.
Now they want market bosses to follow Newcastle Borough Council’s example and suspend rent payments for six weeks.
Butcher James Ede stayed open for deliveries during the 12-week lockdown period – and now faces having to pay the council 25 per cent of his rent from that period.
He said: “It’s a bit of a joke considering the council closed the market. Business during the 12 weeks was good for us and we did probably 70 or 80 per cent of what we normally take in a week. But it was very slow on Wednesday and Friday last week. The council should offer the same deal as the council in Newcastle.”
Fellow butcher Alan Shakespeare added: “None of us have been taking anywhere near what we usually would do. I haven’t got to pay for the previous 12 weeks because I’ve been totally closed. But we’ve only taken about one-third what we normally do since we’ve been back.”
But grocer Arthur Derbyshire has been pleased with the support from Stoke-on-Trent City Council during the lockdown.
He said: “We’ve had the self-employment grant so it’s been good for us. The council has been in touch and told us what’s going on.”
The council has been on a crash course with stall-holders ever since ordering Stoke-on-Trent’s markets to reopen.
Some traders at Hanley Market have refused to open, while stall-holders at Tunstall and Stoke are demanding a rent reduction.
StokeonTrentLive has approached the council for a statement regarding the rent row.