Norwich market rent won’t be scrapped says councillor

7:30 AM June 23, 2022

Market traders are ready to go to war with City Hall over a 8.3pc hike in rents.

Business owners claim the extra charges could see some stalls go under.

But City Hall is refusing to budge even in the face of growing anger.

Norwich City Council told traders it would be increasing rents last month. This lead to fears some may go bust due to the added cost pressure, on top of spiraling prices for stock, Covid recovery and a cost of living crisis putting people off spending.

But council bosses have said they need the cash to pay for services.

Trader Josh Worley pleaded for a rethink warning an “integral” part of the city faces a tough future.

Josh Worley

Josh Worley, owner of the Water and Earth stall on Norwich Market
– Credit: George Thompson

At Tuesday’s council meeting Mr Worley said: “Traders need more support than ever, yet this Council has decided instead to raise our rents by 8.3pc, costing some businesses on the market hundreds of more pounds a month.

“Additionally, traders were given no warning about this rent increase, meaning businesses which might struggle to keep up with the rent increase had no time to consider their next steps.”

Mr Worley added that it was a “devastating blow” to the people who keep the market going.

Adam Giles, the city council member responsible for the Norwich market, said the authority “appreciates the financial challenges faced by traders”.

However, Mr Giles said traders have been supported during Covid with rent discounts and from 2016-2021 the council has not raised rent by the retail price index increase – a measure of inflation the council uses to set rents.

Mr Giles said footfall remains strong and there would also be no increase in service charges and would work to make the market as attractive as possible.

He added: “The council is, I’m afraid, under significant financial pressure and needs to maintain services it provides to the most vulnerable.

“I’m afraid these simply pressures do not allow us to reverse the rent increase at this time.”

Mr Worley questioned if the council would be raising rents on its other commercial properties which include a gym in Kent and a cold store in Northamptonshire.

He said: “It would be interesting to know how much this council is planning to increase rents for these properties, compared to the 8.3pc for the small independent traders on Norwich Market.”

Mr Giles admitted he does not know the answer.

And other traders were also quick to condemn the council.

Trevor Eaglen, of market stall Trev's Sweets and Treats

Trevor Eaglen, of market stall Trev’s Sweets and Treats
– Credit: Archant

Trevor Eaglen, owner of Trev’s Sweets and Treats said: “I am certainly not accepting it. I would be tempted to leave over it. It’s frustrating how much they are putting it up by.

“It would be nice in this current climate if they consider us more. I have heard one or two people saying they are also contemplating leaving.

“I was not expecting it in the slightest. With people cutting down their spending it is a vicious circle.”

Pllumb Jakaj, of the Banger Stop, added: “I am not happy about it but what can I do about it? I need to keep my job.

“I am a small business which is open just five hours a day so my stall is expensive anyway without this on top of it.

“This council does not care if they take money and that’s it.”

Scott Allen, owner of the City Hats, said a petition has been signed by most of the traders who are in opposition to the 8.3pc rent increase.

“I was hoping it would not happen in the current climate at all. It seems such a cruel time to introduce an increase like that,” he said.

“It’s a big increase when trade and footfall is not normal yet we are forced to pay something like another £100 a month. I speak to some people and they have not been in the city for more than two years yet we are faced with this .

“The market will definitely be reduced. People are struggling anyway, some more than others but this will result in some traders leaving.”