TWO grocers have threatened to take a council to court after holding it responsible for the destruction of their market stall last year.

Helmshore couple Peter and Diane Camm, who have run a fruit and veg stall at Rawtenstall Market for nearly 20 years, want compensation from Rossendale Council after a blaze to their stall cost them nearly £40,000 eight months ago.

The local authority has been blamed for the fire after council bosses hired workers to mend the side street off Newchurch Road near the market entrance in July. 

Rossendale Council blamed the contractor and its sub-contractor for the fire in a public statement on its Facebook page and said: “We do feel it’s unfair the council is being accused of not being supportive as we believe we have provided plenty of support since the fire.”

Lancashire Telegraph:

Blowtorches were used for the road repairs and a fire spread to Mr and Mrs Camm’s stall, 10 minutes after they closed for the day at around 3pm on July 18. Details of the contractor and sub-contractor involved have not been revealed.

Following the fire Mr Camm said it had a ‘devastating’ impact on their business. The 48-year-old said: “We were closed for six weeks and stuck in the market hall for seven months. While inside the hall our business was running at 60 per cent.”

The couple said they had a ‘pointless’ meeting with a representative from Rossendale Council. Mr and Mrs Camm sent a letter of intent to the council after the meeting threatening court action if they don’t receive compensation.

In response, a council spokesman said: “We have every sympathy for the couple and what has happened and we understand their frustrations but there is a clear process that has to be followed in cases like this which we have advised them of.

“We received a letter on March 21 and the claim is now in the hands of our insurers. We believe the liability is likely to be with the contractor and its sub-contractor but we cannot speculate further until the correct process has been gone through.”

Lancashire Telegraph:

Rossendale councillor David Foxcroft has submitted a letter to the local authority’s leader and chief executive asking them to reach a settlement with the two market traders.

He said: “It’s a sorry story and testament to how neglected the market has been under the current administration of the borough council.”