MARKET traders in Barnsley have made a formal approach to have a rent reduction introduced for part of the new Glassworks complex extended to all stallholders as their relationship with the council becomes increasingly tense.

Traders met to discuss rents in response to a council decision to reduce costs for traders on the first floor of the flagship market hall by 50 per cent, but to leave costs for those on the ground floor unchanged.

They insist traders across the new complex are struggling from a combination of a new rent regime, extended opening hours and trading performance.

Now they have set a ten day deadline for the council to come back with a response on its ‘intended actions in relation to rent reductions for all’, with a threat that if a response is not provided traders will ‘continue with other avenues of protest’.

One demonstration has already taken place, in an attempt to draw attention to the situation.

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Barnsley Council says the decision on rents was made following consultation with traders.

The Barnsley Group of the National Market Traders Federation claims traders on the ground floor who have not been subject to any rent reductions are ‘equally struggling to keep their businesses afloat’ with many traders openly reporting that they cannot continue to pay the rent at the full rate.

“Traders are standing together in unity to protest to Barnsley Council to reduce rents by 50 per cent for all traders, including downstairs as this reduction would be a fair and much needed survival package.”

In its statement, Barnsley Council said it monitored the debt position within the market and worked to support traders when required.

“After recent feedback from traders followed by a consultation over rent, we have implemented a 50 per cent rent reduction for traders on the first floor of the market,” a spokesman said.

“Ground floor traders also have the option to move to the first floor if they wish to take advantage of the discount.

“The rent reduction will not only help support traders on the upper level, but also help attract new businesses into the market to ensure it continues to be a vibrant shopping destination.

“As a responsible landlord, the council will assess and speak to traders in debt on an individual basis as we edge towards the three year break clause.

“The majority of market tenants are better off, as they are being billed at a level which is 20 per cent less than the rent contained in the lease agreement.”

Provided by the Local Democracy Reporting Service.