Wednesday, June 23, 2021

News: Council approves rents cut for Rotherham market traders

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Traders at Rotherham's markets are to get a rent reduction for the period of Covid restrictions.

From March to July 2020 trading largely ceased as part of lockdown restrictions on non-essential retailing. Between July and October, a much-limited level of activity returned before trading was once again restricted by the application of controls and further lockdowns.

Some essential retail stalls were able to trade as the markets operated reduced opening hours. Many started to offer deliveries to support customers during the pandemic.

Rotherham Council said that demands for the payment of rent due from market traders have been put on hold over the past year reflecting the unique situation resulting from the pandemic.

Now the Council's cabinet has approved a concession consisting of a reduction of 50% of the rent due be applied for the period 4th July 2020 to 23rd October 2020. For all other periods in financial year 2020/21 it is recommended that no rent be charged. Billing is proposed to restart from June 1 2021 with only the one bill to be issued covering 2020/21 and 2021/22.

A council paper stated: "The pandemic and associated restrictions over the last year have meant at times many businesses have been unable to trade and when trading has been possible it has been with significantly reduced footfall. Without detailed data from businesses trading in the market the scale of impact cannot be precisely quantified. However, it is clear from discussions with traders’ representatives and observations on the ground that sales will have fallen significantly.

"There is concern within the market service that the recovery of backdated rent due will create serious cash pressure on many small traders leading to a spike in business closures that undermines recovery of the markets."

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Market traders in Rotherham have been supported by national and local Covid business support schemes. The support included business rates relief, statutory business support grants, local discretionary support grants and protection from eviction under rent provisions for established leaseholders.

The total amount of grant support paid to regular stall holders in 2020-21 from all sources is £961,27 but the council believes that many market traders have not been in a position to put the grants aside for fixed costs and instead have used the funding to help mitigate income loss over the last year.

In 2020, the authority approved a proposal to use its discretionary business grant scheme to increase the payment for market traders to an equivalent of 12 months' rent (the landlord, being the council).

In implementing the latest proposal, the total cost to the council is £471,210 in 2020-21 and £120,024 in 2021-22 which equates to a total of £591,234.

Cllr. Denise Lelliott, Cabinet Member for Jobs and the Local Economy at Rotherham Council, said: "We all know it has been a tough time for businesses, especially in retail. The market is at the heart of the town centre and we have plans to refurbish the markets complex as part of the masterplan.

"This proposal gives a helping hand in terms of rents to be paid and provides an opportunity to come out of Covid with as many traders still operating within the markets as possible.

"The support will be a major boost for our traders and is part of our ongoing commitment to the markets in to which the council is making significant investment in redevelopment over the next few years."

The redevelopment of the markets (including a new central library) is a key project in the partially successful bid to the Future High Streets Fund (FHSF) which secured £12.6m from the Government.

Black Cat Building Consultancy has recently been awarded a £282,000 contract by the council to progress designs for the markets and library.

Images: RMBC

4 comments:

Anonymous,  June 24, 2021 at 1:27 AM  

I don't see how a Library fits in a market development?Can't think of any other places that have there library in there market?

Anonymous,  June 24, 2021 at 12:32 PM  

The council owns the site I guess.

Anonymous,  June 25, 2021 at 11:37 AM  

It's good idea to include the library within the market building, putting them together should increase footfall for both.

Anonymous,  June 28, 2021 at 8:00 PM  

Think most people I see in Rotherham market aren't type who visit library's!

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