ANGRY Wigan outdoor market traders are locked in a rent strike battle with the council.
The 30 stallholders have been withholding a third of their daily rate since Saturday in protest against their costs and the dwindling shopper footfall.
Their spokesman and long time outdoor market stallholder Joe Drachenberg said they have been pushed into the action by the continued failure of town hall chiefs to act on their concerns.
He warned that the six-day a week outdoor market is now “in intensive care”...and may be closed altogether within a year without some “life support.”
As the Evening Post went to press the market traders say that they have yet to receive any reaction or response from the council to the action.
Mr Drachenberg - who has sold shoes and work boots on the market for four decades - believes the market is a victim of the success of The Grand Arcade which is concentrating shoppers at the top end of Wigan town centre.
But he believes it can be saved from “imminent” closure with a package of measures that market bosses should now put in place.
These including lowering rents to a “fair, realistic and competitive” level, proper promotion by the council of the market, reduced car parking charges, removal of the “Cell block H” section of unused stalls, plus a new cleaning regime for the market square itself.
Mr Drachenberg said: “We have been pushed into taking this action because no one from the markets is listening to us anymore.
“The footfall is absolutely dreadful now and unless they do something quickly the market just isn’t going to be there next year.
“We are barely hanging on and if this is the way to get the council to sit up and listen then this is what we will do.
“I heard a shopper at the weekend on their mobile talking about having come out of The Galleries because “nearly all the shops were empty” and then coming into the outdoor market and finding hardly anything here for them and nobody about either, which just about sums it up.
“When it rains there is sludge all over the market because it isn’t being cleaned properly anymore.
“Considering the rents we are being expected to keep on paying it just isn’t acceptable anymore.”
A council spokesman said: “We are continuing to work with the traders on the issues raised and we hope that we can deliver an appropriate solution.”