WIGAN indoor market traders have been presented with an olive branch in their bitter rents battle.
Council chiefs have offered them a new agreement to sign which includes a seven and half per cent CUT to take account of what they define as an historic over-payment.
Town hall bosses today say their offer shows how they are backing the traders to keep stalls open and encourage new life back into struggling market hall and now want the borough’s bargain conscious shoppers to do the same.
But Hindley Coun Jim Ellis – who has been campaigning on their behalf – today dismissed it as “miserly” and called for further negotiation.
Deputy Leader Coun David Molyneux hoped traders would agree to the new deal and was keen to stress the benefits to the whole economy that the markets bring.
He is urging residents to give their local market another go and support neighbourhood traders under the on-going ‘Buy Local’ campaign.
Coun Molyneux said: “Nearly 80 per cent of the traders are entitled to 100 per cent rates relief and following the change in the rating system affecting market stalls, we are now proposing to reduce the licence fees that traders pay by seven and a half per cent.
“This, combined with the rating change, will ensure that the great majority of traders are paying less which we believe will allow them to continue to ride out the financial hard times.”
“Times are tough for everyone and that’s why it is more important than ever that we get behind our home-grown markets and local traders.”
Market Traders Committee chairman Mike O’Connor, who has run a sportswear stall there for the last 20 years, said that the traders wanted to wait until they received their individual offers from the council in writing before commenting.
But Coun Ellis said by his calculations the rent cut should have been between 10 and 12 per cent.
He said: “It is too low and seems more about helping the council rebuild its finances because of the cuts than being an offer that has come from a level playing field.”