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Market Hall rents to be slashed despite £100k income shortfall

Council bosses have pledged to not 'switch off the lights and walk away'

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Hyndburn councillor Clare Cleary, cabinet member and Chair of the Accrington Town Team

Accrington Market Hall stall rent charges are set to be slashed by up to £88 per month in a bid to ‘turn around’ its fortunes.

Phased rent reductions will come into effect from next month - despite the ‘struggling’ building making a £270,000 budget loss over two years.

Council bosses have pledged to ‘invest in the building for the long term’.

Standard rents on indoor stalls will drop by up to 13.4 per cent - with tenants also benefitting from a one-month 50 per cent discount.

Kiosk holders on Pavilion Street will see their rents reduced by up to 3.2 per cent, although service charges will increase for the first time since the last review in 2010.

Coun Clare Cleary, Hyndburn council’s executive member for markets, said they want to strike a ‘fair balance between open market values and the financial pressures faced by some market traders’.

Speaking at a recent cabinet meeting, she said: “This is a really challenging time on the traditional high street, however I believe this is a really exciting time for Accrington town centre, especially with the current phase of the new town square nearing completion. The square is going to attract a significant increase in footfall and both the indoor and outdoor markets are well positioned to directly benefit of the increase in footfall.”

Last month we reported that street food stalls could be used to try and attract more people into the town, with the council setting out ambitions to create a ‘European cafe culture’.

Coun Cleary added: “A historic market hall forms part of our longer term vision for Accrington town centre. We will be seeking to diversify the market offer with an increased emphasis on food and drink alongside existing traditional retail.”

The Market Hall posted losses of £160,000 in 2017/18 and is projected to make a further £110,000 deficit in 2018/19.

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Council leader Coun Miles Parkinson explained: “In the short term the likelihood is that the market won’t deliver our envisaged income. That doesn’t mean we switch off the lights and walk away. The long-term is that we need to turn the market around and make it sustainable. Do we want to tie people over a barrel and whip them and try and get every last penny out of them? No, because we know the market is struggling. That’s why we’ve reviewed it and reduced the rents.”