MARKET traders organised a protest to challenge the council on their rent reduction offer.

Despite Burnley Council offering the market traders a recovery package, where fifty percent of their rent will be reduced for three months, the traders are still unhappy.

They gathered on Tuesday at 12pm to protest against the council and managment not reducing their rent to fifty percent for a year.

The traders wish for more support after being shut for three months, saying they cannot afford to pay the rates.

Stall holders stood with masks and taope over their mouths, with t-shirts on dummies revealing the words 'Traders Lives Matter.'

Carolyn Hartley, who runs the J and A fruit stall, has been at the market for over forty years,

She said: "We feel the fifty percent reduction is not enough because business has been down for so long and we can;t carry on trading like this.

"We want fifty percent off for 12 months."

"There are lots of empty stalls, so if the management does not do anything then there won't be anyone left.

"We are families that have still got to make a living, we have not had any business for three months."

The owner of Time Piece Electricals said: "Ever since reopneing we have been really quiet, there is not much footfall.

"There are many problems with the way the market is being run.

"They only started deep-cleaning it today and the reduced hours don't work for everyone, they have not consulted us on matters."

The package on offer from Burnley Council is in addition to a grant scheme already announced by the government.

Bosses have said the importance of the market to the local area has forced it to act to support market stall holders despite its own current financial difficulties.

Cllr Gordon Birtwistle, Executive Member for Economy and Growth said “Although we are aware that some market traders are not happy with the support package, it is our view that this is a good offer that builds on the Government Grant support they have already received.

“It is much more generous than traders occupying privately owned shops will be getting.

"The council is facing a major budget deficit and we cannot afford to meet market traders demands without cutting services elsewhere and this would not be fair to other council taxpayers in the town.

“Going forward I am happy to meet with a representative group of the market traders to look at how we can make the market hall prosper”.

In response to Government regulations the market closed to the public on the 24th March, during which traders were able to benefit from a £10,000 government grant as well as being eligible to access the job retention scheme and the self-employed income support scheme.

A council spokesperson continued: “The council has already put in place social distancing measures and extra staffing to allow the market hall to safely re-open.

“The Executive made its decision in the context of a projected £3.2m budget deficit for the 2020/21 financial year due to lost income and additional costs as a result of COVID-19."

The traders will meet with the council on Thursday to discuss their full concerns.