Gareth Wilson

Liberal Democrat Campaigner for Haddenham & Aldreth Learn more


by Gareth Wilson on 16 August, 2010

Pauline campaigning for Ely Market

Liberal Democrats have issued a stern warning to the Tories after they agreed a 58 per cent increase in charges for Saturday’s market traders.

They claim that forcing traders to pay East Cambridgeshire District Council £10 a week plus VAT to erect and dismantle stalls could be short sighted in the longer term.

The Lib Dems claim that traders could eventually swap the council owned stalls for their own and bypass the charge.

“This would leave the council back to square one and having to rethink its strategy all over again,” said Councillor Pauline Wilson, Lib Dem spokesperson of the council’s Community Services Committee.

“This is a quick fix, short sighted solution which could backfire. The Tories see the market traders as an easy target and a way of making massive profit. But it could go badly wrong.

“Some of the traders have already expressed concerns about the advance payment and are worried that they will have to give up.”

The Tories propose introducing the £10 charge plus VAT in transitional stages for existing traders. They will pay £5 a week for the first six months in advance, followed by £7.50 a week for the year 2011/2012 finally increasing to £10. New traders will be charged £10 a week plus VAT from day one.

The increase with the other cost saving proposals will generate an extra £46,500 in profit from the Saturday Collectibles and Farmers’ Markets, on top of the already budgeted £20,000.

At the council’s Community Services Committee meeting on Thursday (August 12) Cllr Pauline Wilson proposed a £5 increase on pitch charges across the board, which would have been VAT exempt and was supported by traders. It would have produced an additional £42,500.

But her idea was defeated along with another from Lib Dem Cllr Hazel Williams who suggested introducing the £10 increase as a pitch charge, again free of VAT, and keeping the transitional arrangement.

Cllr Pauline Wilson added: “The Tories may have shot themselves in the foot with this plan. No-one knows what will happen in a year or two and traders could decide to reject the council-owned stalls and buy their own. Eventually, the council may find it has priced itself out of the market.

“Increasing the pitch fees by a small amount would have guaranteed increased profit for the market with the traders’ backing.”

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