Market stallholders in Chesterfield will have to pay more rent after hikes were approved.
The three per cent increase will affect all stallholders on the outdoor, flea and farmers’ markets from April 1.
Chesterfield borough councillors agreed the rise – which will generate £118,137 between 2015/16 – during a meeting this morning.
The news comes as a revamp of Chesterfield’s open-air market will be investigated in a bid to breathe new life into the town institution.
During the meeting, Councillor Ray Russell, leader of the Liberal Democrat group on the authority, said: “The market is struggling – you only have to go into town to see that.
“The last thing that’s needed is this increase – it’s a very bad message to give out.
“It will impact on stallholders.”
Cllr Amanda Serjeant, executive member for leisure, culture and tourism, said: “If the council is going to continue to invest in the market, this rise is required.”
Councillors also agreed that all stallholders should be given one rent-free week in March 2016 and that there should be no increase in electricity, publicity and storage charges.
Stallholders were consulted on the rent increase, which will see them paying between 20p and 90p more per stall.
Council documents said: “This was met with concerns that traders were still finding trading conditions to be poor and that a number of traders would find any rise difficult, particularly as they felt unable to pass the increase on to the consumer.”
The documents added: “A number of traders have either retired or sought alternative markets and there continues to be a decline in the number of casual traders.”
During the meeting, councillors also agreed that there should be no rise on the car boot sale fee at the Proact Stadium.
At a meeting last month, the council agreed to examine a possible revamp of Chesterfield’s outdoor market in a bid to attract more traders and shoppers.
A consultant will undertake a study investigating a redesign of the market and estimated costs in a project costing £15,000.
A report which was considered by councillors at the time said the market suffers from “poor sightliness and falling footfall”.
The report said: “Because of a lack of prominently placed stalls, new traders find it extremely difficult to establish themselves and, therefore, do not stay.
“The public has the impression that the market is ‘empty’, even though there are at least 70 stalls.
“These issues need to be addressed if the market is to retain its importance to the town and the local community.”
The report added: “The success of the town as a shopping destination depends to a great extent on the market.”