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Offer of free stalls to boost Cradley Heath Market
12:31pm Wednesday 4th September 2013 in News
STALLS at Cradley Heath Market are being offered free of charge until the end of the year in a bid to boost the number of traders and help existing hard-pressed stallholders.
It is hoped the incentive, launched this week, will result in filling the 25 empty spaces in the High Street market hall.
Market manager Peter Cope hopes to extend reductions in rent into next year and is looking for approval from London-based owners the Lee Baron Group to charge just one day a week in January and February, two days a week in March and April and three days a week in May June, providing there is an undertaking to sign up until July 1 2014.
Existing traders, who run the 96 stalls currently open, are also taking advantage of the rent free period, which runs out on December 31 and they will be included in next year’s planned incentives.
Mr Cope said the market - known locally as the Big Market to distinguish it from the town’s smaller Central Market - was last at capacity around the turn of the decade.
But since then it has been hit by competition from supermarkets and the internet, the recession and the demise of bus routes into the town.
Mr Cope said he was optimistic the incentive would be successful and has already had inquiries form six potential new traders.
He has also contacted the Prince’s Trust to see if it has any potential start-up businesses that could take advantage of the offer.
Cradley Heath and Old Hill councillor Ann Shackleton, who is trying to set up a Cradley Heath Traders’ Group, welcomed the rent concessions.
She said: “I hope it is the first step in breathing new life into the town.”
As an extra incentive to shoppers, customers will also be allowed to use the lower end of the traders’ car park free of charge.
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