Rent rises are 'the demise of Bilston Market'
A controversial rent rise that has left some Bilston Market traders fearing for their futures could lead to its demise, an historian said today.
Gerald Hanrahan, from the Black Country Memories Club, believes the market is the cornerstone of the town.
But Wolverhampton City Council is increasing rent charges there by five per cent from this week, which some traders say could force them out of business.
Mr Hanrahan said that would spell the 'complete demise of the market'.
He added: "People already say, 'I'm not bothering to go to Bilston.' They look elsewhere. I think when you say Bilston market, people think quality.
"But having run a business, I know any increase in rates is detrimental."
Two months ago, the market was crowned the best large outdoor market in the country.
The judging panel, headed up by Graham Walker, chief executive of the National Association of British Market Authorities, praised it for its 'vibrancy and buzzing atmosphere'.
But the council decided to increase rent charges as it looks to save £123 million over the next five years.
Traders have said the increase would make it difficult for some of them to survive and they have warned that it could force some of them to cease trading, particularly if there any further increases in the future.
Mr Hanrahan said: "People used to come from miles around to listen to the people who sold on the outside market and it was much better for jokes than any of the entertainment at Bilston Theatre or the Birmingham Hippodrome. "
The Black Country Memories Club will hold a talk on the market at Bilston Town Hall on April 30 from 12pm.
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