Row over market trader’s rent debt months after moving into prestige new Barnsley retail complex
Barnsley market bosses have been asked to write off more than £7,000 of debt for unpaid rent from a trader who has struggled since the prestigious new Glass Works complex opened in the Autumn – with the council accused of failing to ensure the business was able to meet the terms of the lease it offered.
The Barnsley branch of the National Market Traders Federation has now stepped in to represent the trader, who found they were generating too little income to cover their rent to the council and they have asked that the debt be cleared on the grounds that Barnsley Council should have done more to ensure the business was robust enough to meet the financial demands of the lease.
Barnsley Council has declined to comment on an individual case but insists the Glass Works market is developing well, with more traders moving in as increasing numbers of stalls have been made available.
The situation over the trader in debt remains unresolved, according the Barnsley branch of the NMTF, with spokesman Keiron Knight claiming the council had offered a settlement of £350 a month to clear the debt, without offering an explanation as to how that figure had been calculated.
Mr Knight said: “The council say they are socially responsible, but they have let this trader sign a lease they could not afford. What sort of due diligence was done to check whether it was affordable?
“They have made an offer of what they would accept to pay off the debt, but it is a lot of money for someone who is clearly already struggling badly.
“It is unclear how they’ve come up with that figure, but it doesn’t follow the normal way of calculating these things.
“When people are in debt, it is normal to work out how much money they have left after meeting all their commitments and decide what would be fair payments from there,” he said.
The NMTF have now suggested to the council that the debt should be cancelled on the grounds of “bad practice” from the council.
Coun Tim Cheetham, the council Cabinet’s Spokesman for Place, said: “It’s an exciting time for Barnsley Market.
“Now that we’ve got more stalls available downstairs, some existing market traders have chosen to move locations. All traders in the market were given the option to move stalls if they wished.
“As a responsible landlord, the council will always work with our fantastic market traders to make their businesses and the market a success – which it has been since opening.
“We’re delighted to welcome another new business to the market and we’ll be welcoming more new faces later in the year.
“We’ve got some great things lined up in the market, including more animation upstairs, starting with our brilliant Youth Market as part of Barnsley’s Big Weekend. Our young traders are the stallholders of the future – and Barnsley Market is a great platform for them to showcase their wares and learn the ins and outs of running a business.
“We’ve recently entered Great British High Steet’s Rising Star category – and the success of our market is one of the reasons why we wanted to enter. Our traders are helping Barnsley buck the trend – footfall is up and long may that continue.
“We’ve got an exciting announcement coming soon about Market Kitchen – housed upstairs in the market that will give us our own independent food court full of new – and some familiar – faces.“Barnsley Market is buzzing and it’s all down to our brilliant traders and customers.”