Market traders have been offered a 30% rent cut in a bid to boost the struggling market hall.Advertisement
In May, traders wrote to Preston City Council to demand a 50% cut in rent and said they would consider strike action if nothing was done to combat the difficulties they faced.
At a Town Hall meeting today, city councillors voted unanimously to reduce the rent and invest in the structure of the canopy, to make it more comfortable for traders.
It is understood traders were told their rent would be reduced on August 2.
A spokesperson for Preston City Council said: “This rent relief will allow existing traders to develop their businesses and new traders to establish themselves in a revitalised Market Hall, which in turn, will enable Preston Markets as a whole to thrive.
“The Council understands that the traders sought a 50% rent reduction but, the Council feel that a 30% rent reduction combined with significant investment in the canopy walkways is a fair and generous offer.”
The reduced rates will be in place for three years, running from April 2019 to April 2022, and traders will be asked to sign three year leases to secure the offer.
The council says it is seeking new tenants to fill the empty stalls and incentives are on offer, such as initial rent free periods .
Since the start of 2019, stallholders have left the market at a rate of almost one a month, with at least six stalls no longer trading.
Traders have blamed cold temperatures inside the Market Hall and lack of footfall for their decisions to leave.
Read more: Capelli Remi is the latest stall to leave the market – but Cherry Pie is staying
As part of today’s decision the council has committed to a development plan which will improve the ambient temperature inside the market.
Canopies made from fabricated steel, infilled with clear polycarbonate panels, will be installed over the walkways, to stop the heat escaping – while retaining the aesthetic of the original 1875 canopy.
Councillor Robert Boswell, Cabinet Member for Environment at Preston City Council said: “Preston City Council is fully committed to the success of Preston Markets.
“The rent reductions will enable current businesses to grow and potential new businesses to establish themselves in the Market Hall.
“We have a market full of excellent products – freshly made food and drinks, accessories, produce, fresh meat and an amazing selection of cheese – and we need Prestonians to support these local businesses and enjoy what Preston Markets has to offer.”
Read more: Update on former Preston Market Hall car park demolition
Sam Livesey, Chairman of the Traders Association at Preston Markets said: “We welcome the news that the council have taken the points outlined in our letter seriously.
“We now look forward to sharing these new proposals with traders and hearing their views.
“All our members want to work collaboratively with the council to find solutions and ensure a successful future for the new Preston Market.”
Councillor Matthew Brown, Leader of Preston City Council said: “In a time of continued austerity, with more uncertainty ahead, the cabinet members at Preston City Council have taken the decision to invest significantly more resources in the Market Hall.
“This budget could have been allocated towards another council priority, but the success of the markets is and always will be of high importance to the council”
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