Council debunks claims about ‘massively hiked rents’ on town’s high street in Barnsley

Barnsley Town HallBarnsley Town Hall
Barnsley Town Hall
A high profile Barnsley Councillor has hit back at claims market traders were being driven out at Wombwell by “massively hiked rents”.

In a (now deleted) Facebook post in a local group, a resident said there was “not a single market trader” on Wombwell high street a few weeks ago due to the council’s new measures.

The post had hundreds of likes and comments below where the council was criticised for “driving” traders elsewhere.

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But Barnsley Council’s Coun Robert Frost, cabinet spokesperson for regeneration and culture, said the fees have remained the same, and the traders were unable to show up due to personal reasons.

He said: “The fees and charges for regular licensed market traders have remained the same, and have not changed for over six years – these details are available in the 2023-2024 budget papers.

Traders are billed based on the space they use, with those taking increasingly larger spaces expected to pay more to make it fair for all stallholders.

“No traders have handed their notice in for the market on any day. On Saturday, we have three licensed traders, two of which did not attend due to personal reasons. The council works hard to retain traders and make sure the market is working for them.

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“We’re proud of our outdoor markets and have a history of investing in their success. During the pandemic, outdoor market stallholders received six discretionary payments directly from the council to support them during lockdowns and help them recover from COVID-19. We also hold Young Traders events to generate interest, raise the profile of our markets, and encourage young entrepreneurs to get involved alongside an officer focused on promoting our district markets.

“Alongside this, the council has just completed a significant investment into Wombwell town centre, funded by the Principal Towns programme, which includes a revamp of the high street and the area where the market is located. One of the reasons for doing this was to directly support the market and provide a better environment for market traders’ customers.

“To help continue this support, we have made sure that there is no increase in rent at Wombwell Market.

“We continue to have discussions with local businesses and traders, and review the space being used to make sure that all stallholders are treated fairly and consistently across the board. We hold meetings and face-to-face discussions with traders, where our officers are happy to work alongside them to support traders to use their space effectively and keep their fees down.

“The market is a key asset for Wombwell’s high street and residents and adds significantly to everyone’s positive experience of the town. We want to make sure it continues to thrive into the future.”