Traders divided as council deadline looms

Left to right: Ray Smith, Jonathan Lamb, Ali Sher, Raj Vig, Amar Grewar, Ron Westhead, Mike O'Connor and Coun Jim Ellis

Left to right: Ray Smith, Jonathan Lamb, Ali Sher, Raj Vig, Amar Grewar, Ron Westhead, Mike O'Connor and Coun Jim Ellis

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WIGAN’S warring market traders have thrown out proposed new contracts.

Leaders revealed a meeting of stallholders unanimously rejected the deal which offered them what the council describe as an “unprecedented” 15 per cent cut in rents until 2014.

It is a direct challenge to town hall chiefs who have given them a deadline of tomorrow to sign up or face the start of possible enforcement action which could lead to their eviction.

The 70-plus stallholders currently have a two-month notice agreement in place.

But market chiefs greeted the news by quickly announcing that indoor traders over in the council-owned market hall in Leigh have now “unanimously accepted the breakthough deal.”

Wigan Market Traders’ Federation branch chairman John O’Connor denied brinkmanship and said that they were now seeking an 11th-hour crisis summit meeting with director of environment Gillian Bishop.

He said that he was still hopeful a negotiated settlement could be reached despite two years of talks’ having failed to reach an agreement to date.

Mr O’Connor said: “We are sure the council doesn’t want to take any actions which result in a market hall with no market traders.

“And the vast majority of us certainly want to stay if we are paying reasonable rents to do so.

”All we are asking for now is a meeting with Gillian Bishop to discuss the rates and we want to progress and find some middle ground because we know this situation isn’t in anybody’s interests.

“We are now waiting for another threatening letter from the council which will, we are told, be the last chance at the OK Corral and will be presumably be telling us to sign up or to do one.”

John Doherty, Chairman of Leigh Market Traders’ Association, confirmed Leigh traders had agreed to the offer made by the Council.

He said: “The terms of the offer go some ways to cushion the burgeoning cash expenses which all traders are experiencing in Leigh Market.

“We believe it is time to consolidate our position and move on to other issues which Leigh Market.”