Gosport traders may leave in wake of council charges clampdown

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MARKET traders are warning that they may leave Gosport after a recent clampdown by the council.

Officers from Gosport Borough Council gave traders a week’s notice before they measured the width of stalls in an effort to recalculate the rents for both the Tuesday and Saturday markets, held in the High Street.

And the council has confirmed they believe two traders will not return to the market.

Gary Williams, the owner of a clothes stall, said he will now be charged £82 on a Saturday, up from £48.50 and £50.50 on a Tuesday, up from £31.50.

He said: ‘In this economic climate it’s not easy to make a living anyway, it doesn’t seem like they’re trying to encourage the market to be here.

‘That’s why there’s a lot of gaps.

‘After Christmas we won’t be here, you’ll have the fruit and veg, the book stall and perhaps the sweet stall but most of us won’t be here because they’re not encouraging us.

‘It’s hard enough to earn a living anyway.

‘We’re three weeks before Christmas and there’s not the footfall and then they’re charging us more rent basically.’

Figures seen by The News show that although the number of traders with longer term contracts has increased, the number of casual traders has decreased since August this year.

Andy Mellers, owner of a sweet stall, said that he will be charged £50, up from £41.50 on Tuesday and £82 on a Saturday, up from £68.50.

‘From January 1 it’s our quietest time and you struggle to pay the rent let alone earn any money,’ he said.

Mr Mellers said that at a meeting last Tuesday, traders asked council bosses to reduce the rents from the current cost per foot, which is currently £1.50 for signed on traders and £2.50 for casuals on Tuesdays.

For Saturday’s market this increases to £2.75 for signed on traders and £3.25 for casuals.

Ian Rickman, head of environmental health at Gosport council said it is not increasing the fees for market traders but ensuring that all traders are paying the same rates.

‘If people get the notion that some traders are being treated better than others, or whatever the perception is, that’s equally as discouraging for people to come to the market.’