Long Sutton market traders will have to pay towards road closure after council refuses to back down
Market traders in Long Sutton will have to pay towards their weekly road closure after councillors refused to back down on new fees.
South Holland District Council’s cabinet had been challenged over its decision to charge traders in Long Sutton £8.50 per 10ft stall, compared to £7 for all other markets.
The extra £1.50 - opposed by councillors Chris Brewis and Jack Tyrrell - will fund 40-50% of the £92 a week cost of the road closure for the market.
Coun Roger Gambba-Jones, portfolio holder for environmental services, told Tuesday’s cabinet meeting that the £1.50 extra was ‘not unreasonable’ - and members voted with him to stand by the plan.
Deputy leader Nick Worth said: “If you can’t afford a stall for £8.50 you probably shouldn’t be there I would suggest.”
Coun Chris Brewis said the new deal was ‘patently unfair’ on Long Sutton, stressing that traders only had a road closure because the council told them to.
He added: “This has done a great deal of harm to the reputation of this district in the Long Sutton and Sutton Bridge area.”
At the meeting, Coun Gambba-Jones warned that markets will need to bring in more revenue to help fund their future.
He said: “£7 is not a sustainable figure, it’s certainly not the sort of figure being charged in other markets.”
He added: “We were one of the most generous councils in this country, compared to others, in not making charges to market traders during the pandemic recovery period.”
The council’s new fees - which include cutting Spalding stall prices from £19 to £7 - are part of a plan which includes appointing a market manager.
Coun Gambba-Jones added: “If markets are to flourish they need investment and that investment must come from the markets, in part at least.”
He also defended the new online booking system, amid criticism that it may stop traders being able to make late weather-dependent decisions.
Coun Gambba-Jones said: “We are not, at the end of the day, a charity and we certainly aren’t somewhere where they can turn up when they fancy. That’s not what we want in a 21st century market.”
He said he saw no reason why traders could not turn up in the wind and rain and that shoppers want to see a consistent set of stalls - with traders booking in advance online elsewhere.
He added: “This is about the benefit for the customer first and foremost. The trader has been the one whose been running things and ultimately we are supposed to be looking after the customers.”