Lancashire

Blackburn market rent at £5 to compensate traders

The new Blackburn market premises
Image caption The new premises are now due to open on 28 May

Stall-holders at Blackburn Market are being charged rent of £5, to compensate them for a delay in moving to a new £8m premises.

The replacement market was due to open on 5 March in the ground floor of the Mall shopping centre.

It has been put back to 28 May after a sub contractor went out of business.

Traders will still pay for utilities, their service charge and rates, the chairman of the market traders' association, Chris Appleby, has said.

Mr Appleby, who has a grocery stall at the Penny Street market, said traders paid a different amount of rent according the position of their stall, its size and various other factors.

However, he believes the reduction will save stall-holders hundreds of pounds each month.

Mr Appleby anticipates his bill will reduce from £1,000 a month to about £500.

Situation 'dire'

But he said: "Business is very poor even with these low rents. It is desperate.

"We have an ever diminishing number of customers coming into the market and that means every week each and every one of us is suffering a little bit more as we see our business decline around us."

Many stall-holders, who are not relocating to the new hall, have already left the existing market, where just 60 stall-holders remain.

Councillor Dave Harling, executive member for regeneration at Blackburn Council, admitted the situation was "dire" at Penny Street - but urged shoppers to support traders.

He said: "We are in a major transition into what should be a fantastic trading opportunity but unfortunately circumstances have arisen that the sub contractors went bust.

"We are trying to support the traders as best we can through the next few months."

Two thirds of the 127 available pitches in the new facility have been allocated to existing and new traders.

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