BARNSLEY Council are ‘killing’ Wombwell Market and soon there will be no place left to shop in the area, according to a disgruntled market trader.

The market - on High Street - has pitches multiple days a week.

Regular traders have elongated their stalls for years to make up the empty space from a lack of traders, selling various items such as clothing, footwear and homeware goods to try and make profits to maintain their businesses.

Many of these stall-holders have sold products for decades, passing on their trade to younger family members.

But Ernie Cawley, who has used the space for more than three decades, believes that Barnsley Council are ‘killing it’.

He told the Chronicle: “The council have promised us gazebos in the past but I can’t ever see us getting those.

“We can’t spread our stuff out anymore because the council are then charging us for the extra space.

“A lot of people are out of pocket after paying for petrol and then paying their staff.

“The council are just so greedy - they’re killing it.

“There will be no more Wombwell Market if they carry on.”

After 33 years at the site, Ernie now feels the current situation is the worst that it has ever been.

“On a Tuesday there might be three of us, on Friday there’s around six and there’s even fewer on a Saturday,” he said.

“It used to be so busy but this is the worst that it’s ever been.

“There’s so much space there because people aren’t using it.

“People absolutely love coming to shop at Wombwell.

“But if it carries on like this then they won’t be able to do that soon.

“It’s just getting worse every single week.”

Barnsley Council bosses have said that the fees for the market traders have not increased and they remain at £13.50.

They added that traders were warned that if they used any extra space that they would be charged for it, and that the price for the pitch has been frozen - as it has across the town - for a number of years.

Coun Robert Frost, cabinet spokesperson for regeneration and culture, told the Chronicle: “The fees and charges for regular licensed market traders have remained the same, and have not changed for over six years - these details are available in the 2023-2024 budget papers.

“Traders are billed based on the space they use, with those taking increasingly larger spaces expected to pay more to make it fair for all stallholders.

“No traders have handed their notice in for the market on any day.

“On Saturday, we have three licensed traders, two of which did not attend due to personal reasons.

“The council works hard to retain traders and make sure the market is working for them.

“We’re proud of our outdoor markets and have a history of investing in their success.

“During the pandemic, outdoor market stallholders received six discretionary payments directly from the council to support them during lockdowns and help them recover from Covid-19.

“We also hold Young Traders events to generate interest, raise the profile of our markets, and encourage young entrepreneurs to get involved alongside an officer focused on promoting our district markets.”

Coun Frost, who also represents the Wombwell ward, added that the market is a ‘key asset’ for the area.

“Alongside this, the council has just completed a significant investment into Wombwell town centre, funded by the Principal Towns programme, which includes a revamp of the high street and the area where the market is located,” he said.

“One of the reasons for doing this was to directly support the market and provide a better environment for market traders’ customers.

“To help continue this support, we have made sure that there is no increase in rent at Wombwell Market. We continue to have discussions with local businesses and traders, and review the space being used to make sure that all stallholders are treated fairly and consistently across the board.

“We hold meetings and face-to-face discussions with traders, where our officers are happy to work alongside them to support traders to use their space effectively and keep their fees down.

“The market is a key asset for Wombwell’s high street and residents and adds significantly to everyone’s positive experience of the town.

“We want to make sure it continues to thrive into the future.”