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Talks avert Lowestoft market crisis

PUBLISHED: 09:00 15 April 2009 | UPDATED: 08:56 06 July 2010

Last ditch talks appear to have averted a crisis at a Lowestoft market, which could have seen many stallholders evicted because of a lease dispute.

Traders at the Waveney District Council-run Britten Centre market now look set to sign their new leases after being given a deadline of yesterday to put pen to paper or face being thrown off their pitches.

Last ditch talks appear to have averted a crisis at a Lowestoft market, which could have seen many stallholders evicted because of a lease dispute.

Traders at the Waveney District Council-run Britten Centre market now look set to sign their new leases after being given a deadline of yesterday to put pen to paper or face being thrown off their pitches.

They were angry after receiving documents indicating there would be a 4.5pc increase in their rents after they had called for a reduction to help them cope during the recession.

However, at a crunch meeting yesterday, the council stressed this was an error and that rents would be frozen, with further talks over other ways of helping the traders taking place during the next three months.

This appears to have appeased the traders and spokesman Clive Marshall said last night: “We are happy with the rent freeze so everyone is happy to sign their leases and we can carry on as we were. However, we will be negotiating further to see if we can get a reduction.”

The EDP reported on Monday how the council was waiting for nine out of the 10 traders at the market to sign their leases and they have now been given until the end of next week to act.

The council's head of services David Gallagher said: “Officers have reiterated that rents will not increase and clarified this point with the traders. This will be confirmed in writing.

“The traders have also been given another week in which to sign their new leases and have until Friday, April 24 to complete this or they will be unable to continue trading.

“It has been agreed that once the leases are signed, there will be a three-month review period during which discussions will take place, with a view to deciding a way forward by the end of July.”

Mr Gallagher added that the council could not afford to lose any money from its market income, but stressed the authority wanted to ensure the traders prospered.

There are 30 pitches at the market, with 10 traders currently operating in all but six stalls. They have reported a fall in trade during recent months and had called for a reduction in their daily rent from £18 to £10-12.

A similar lease dispute was averted at the 11th hour two years ago after stallholders reached an agreement with council bosses over certain terms and conditions.

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