6:00pm Monday 7th January 2013
By Bill Jacobs
ANGRY Blackburn Market traders have won a reprieve over a ‘ridiculous’ proposed backdated rise in council service charges after threatening revolt.
The increase, which could land stallholders with bills for hundreds of pounds, has been delayed until March while borough property boss Dave Harling looks again at the proposed fee.
Market manager Keith Holden has written to traders informing them of the delay and review. Bosses acted after fears the rise could force some traders out of business.
Some stallholders threatened to withhold direct debit rents unless the rise is cut and the backdating waived. Two of them are still not convinced the rise will be reduced despite Coun Harling promising to seek a ‘realistic’ compromise.
Under the original plan the annual cost for food and non-food stalls would rise by £2.90 per square foot, from £17 to £19.90. Cafes and catering stalls would see an increase of £2.40 per square foot from £19.50 to £21.90. Most stalls have been paying a lower estimated cost monthly on top of rents ranging from £500 a month to £2,000-plus.
The extra charge was due to be backdated for last year and collected by the end of this month landing stalls of the average 250 square foot size paying £725 and cafe/catering stalls £600 if the higher service charge kicked in. Larger traders faced paying considerably more.
Coun Harling said: “We are looking at every cost involved. We want to come up with a realistic charge.”
Daniel Moffett, of Butlers Family Restaurant, said: “The letter actually promises nothing, but even a short reprieve helps. March is a better time to pay than January.”
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