Plans to hike-up fees at a community market by a whopping £775 a time have been withdrawn by the council.
Community leaders had feared the future of Sharrow Vale Market was in jeopardy after Sheffield Council announced it was increasing the licensing fee from £25 per market to £800.
Following the announcement, traders expressed anger at the 3,100 per cent increase – accusing the council of being ‘greedy’ and ‘destroying’ community spirit.
But yesterday the authority pulled a bizarre U-turn by claiming the announcement was made without approval from elected officials.
Coun Leigh Bramall said: “No elected councillor was made aware of this policy and we have asked for the increase to be withdrawn immediately.
“We are asking officers to work up a more sensible, proportionate and fair charge that encourages and enables events like Sharrow Vale Market to prosper instead of unhelpful blockages like this which put them at risk.”
Following the U-turn, Ian Ramsay, chairman of Sharrow Vale Community Association, said traders were ‘delighted’ – but remained fearful for the future.
He said: “We are delighted that there will be no £800 fee for the July market, but it’s what the council has planned for the future that still concerns us.
“Whether this was a genuine mistake or not, it’s certainly not the end of it.”
On Wednesday we reported a statement from Tom Finnegan-Smith, head of strategic transport and infrastructure at the council, which had been sent to traders.
Mr Finnegan-Smith said: “To help ensure the success of this very busy event, we have always had to make a traffic regulation notice that allows for the temporary closure of Sharrow Vale Road.
“The more events that can be authorised at the same time, the lower the costs. If we can cover all the markets in an 18-month period in one go, the costs reduce to £375 each time.”
The announcement was met with fierce opposition on The Star’s social media channels.
Cheryl Woodhead said: “Greed kills community spirit. The council should be encouraging these events, not discouraging them.”
Victoria Imeson said: “Sheffield Council seems to have a thing about destroying local community spirit.”