WIGAN MP Lisa Nandy has voiced her support for market traders in the town.
Ms Nandy met with stall holders at Wigan Market to discuss their fears over future rates,
Under old rules, market rents were set on a single rateable value based on the overall market property, as valued by The Valuation Office Agency (VOA).
These valuations are used by local authorities to calculate the amount of business rates they will collect from ratepayers.
The markets review in Wigan and Leigh was recently carried out to ensure these markets are valued in the same way as similar covered markets in England and Wales, meaning that now each market stall pay individual rates that reflects its size, layout and location.
The rating bill will be issued by the council as the collection agent for the VOA.
But Wigan are worried they could have to pay rates to the council AND the government,
Michael O’Connor, chairman of the Traders’ Association in Wigan, said: “We are almost being asked to pay twice for the rates. The way the rent is structured, we are paying one of the higher rates in the North West and we feel it is unfair to be charged twice.
“Some people are worried they could be put out of business. Some staff could have to be laid off to accommodate this but this does not mean the market will close. We are hoping Lisa Nandy will get behind us and lobby the council to help us avoid this.”
Ms Nandy said she will speak with the government and Wigan Council to see what can be done to ensure traders are paying affordable rates, She said: “I support the local markets, as they are an important part of our community.”
Wigan Markets’ manager, Phil Edge, said: “Wigan Council is negotiating with traders’ representatives to secure a fair outcome to the change in the way that business rates are collected.
“The council does not give any money to the Valuation Office Agency - they are a part of the government who provide an assessment of property value on behalf of all councils, and any business can formally appeal if they think the figures are wrongly assessed.”