Traders warn South Shields could lose historic market amid stall rents row
South Shields risks losing its historic market if planned pitch price increases come into place, a trader has warned.
South Tyneside Council has confirmed that a price hike from the current £15 per day will come into effect in 2017.
The rates could go up to as much as £26.50, although the final figure has not yet been announced.
Trader Andy Buddin, who has sold crafts and recycled furniture at the market for the last four months, says he will consider leaving his pitch.
He has warned more could follow.
Mr Buddin said: “If it happens, I will definitely have to think about whether I can continue there. I’ve just started the business, and I don’t mind the odd £15 going here and there.
“But if that goes significantly up, it may not be viable any longer, especially when I could go somewhere like Chester-le-Street, Peterlee or Sunderland where it would be cheaper.”
He added: “Lots of shops have closed down in South Shields recently and the market is an attraction to get people into the town.
“Do they want the market to close down as well?”
The market - staged in The Market Place, South Shields - and now beside the new visitor attraction The Word, National Centre for the Written Word.
Market trading in South Shields dates back more than 200 years and is held on Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays.
Mr Buddin added: “A rates increase could make a big difference to many stall holders.
“I know the council has to make money and manage their budgets but there are surely other ways rather than risking losing traders by putting the price up.”
A South Tyneside Council spokesman said: “The market is a key civic asset and is an essential component of the South Shields visitor offer and the 365 vision for the town centre.
“The rates were originally dropped from a proposed £26.50 to £15 in 2012 to help support the market traders.
“Since then we have invested significantly in the market place with new public realm and the canopy and the Word building.
“Following completion of these improvements to the market place earlier in the year, in consultation with the traders stall prices will be reviewed in the new year.
“The price will not increase beyond the 2012 level.
“This price increase is in order to secure the future of South Shields longstanding market which is a staple of South Tyneside and attracts visitors from all over the North East.”