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Stourbridge market axed after staggering 850 per cent rent rise

By Richard Guttridge | Stourbridge | News | Published:

A market in Stourbridge has been axed after a massive hike in rents by Dudley Council made it ‘impossible’ to run.

The market was held every fortnight after launching in February

Bosses behind the fortnightly market said it couldn’t continue following a change in policy which they said amounted to a staggering 850 per cent rise in rent.

The long-running Halesowen Market has also been affected by the change, with managers set for crisis talks with the council.

Stourbridge MP Margot James said she was ‘very disappointed’ by the market’s closure.

The move was prompted by Dudley Council's decision to charge traders consent fees for each stall they run rather than just a single charge, as had previously been the case.

The loss of the attraction, which sold a range of products, including food and crafts, comes after a hard-fought battle to get it up and running last year.

It had been a popular addition every other Saturday in the heart of the town centre on Lower High Street and Coventry Street.

But managers at LSD Promotions, which ran it, were left stunned when they were informed by the council rents would be increasing considerably and said it left them with no alternative but to shut the market.

Dermot McGillicuddy, from LSD, said: "It's impossible.

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"It is a family market with mainly local traders who are charged £15 for a stall.

"We haven't made any money from it this year, which is fine because the big markets pay for the little markets, but then they go and put the rents up 850 per cent.

"It's very disappointing. We put a lot into it and it was a good little market."

Bosses from both LSD Promotions and Bescot Promotions, which runs a fortnightly market in Halesowen, are set to hold talks with the council in the hope chiefs will change their mind.

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Miss James, Conservative MP for Stourbridge, has urged Dudley Coucnil to reconsider.

She said: "I have been always been supportive of the market and I was delighted when it was established after many of months of hard work by all parties involved.

"Since its opening, the market has been a great asset for the town and has boosted the local economy by bringing new shoppers to the area.

The decision to raise the costs of the market’s license was made in an attempt to ensure fairness between market operators and individual stall holders. Sadly, the increase in costs has had completely the opposite effect as it was intended, and has directly led to the organisers closing the market."

Councillor Karen Shakespeare, cabinet member for environment at Dudley Council, said: “During the annual review of street traders consent fees it was highlighted that, unlike other authorities, Dudley Council charges just a single fee whether a trader has one stall or more.

“The committee decided to introduce an annual charge for the first consent stall and then £150 for each additional stall, which equates to £3 per stall for a weekly market. The new fees were approved by the licensing and safety committee in May and come into effect when a trader’s consent is up for renewal.”

Richard Guttridge

By Richard Guttridge
Chief Reporter - @RichG_star

Chief Reporter for the Express & Star, based in Wolverhampton.

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