A veteran trader has scoffed at the “out of touch” council for offering two years rent free at a temporary location for Northampton's market.
Traders angry at being moved out of Northampton’s Market Square during an £8.4 million revamp will not have to pay pitch fees during the relocation.
West Northamptonshire Council (WNC) made the announcement last week in a bid to appease market traders such as Eamonn ‘Fitzy’ Fitzpatrick who has launched a petition in protest against the move. So far he has more than 10,000 signatures.
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Traders were told they would be moved to the Commercial Street car park during the transformation work, which will last two years.
Speaking to Chronicle & Echo, Fitzy said: "WNC is making out it cares about us. They're just offering a little sweetener. A car boot sale wouldn't make it pay down there let alone a daily market, so the council isn't doing us any favours.
"Even if it's no rent it still won't make it pay, no way whatsoever. They know nothing about the game.
"WNC seem to be tone deaf. Out of touch. Condescending. We don't want handouts from the council. We worked hard to pay our way."
Asked whether he would make a profit as a result of not having to pay rent, Fitzy reiterated that he would not be able to “make it pay”.
He said: "What about my expenses, what about my vans, what about my wage bill? I've got taxes to pay, diesel to pay, council to pay.
"If I go down there it'll only be for the craic. I'll prove you can't make it pay, and what happens then? Is there a plan b? They might put on a bus service – is it true? Or will the public have to pay? A lot of questions need answering. "
Last week Councillor Jonathan Nunn leader of West Northamptonshire Council said they had been speaking regularly with traders.
Responding to this, Fitzy said: "We have sat in meetings with WNC but it has taken no notice of us. We've had no consultation whatsoever on the layout of the market. WNC is saying there will be 18 stalls instead of 100, I've got eight now so WNC is saying I've got to cut my business in half? It just don't make sense.
"I would like to meet up with Jonathan Nunn and the new bloke (Councillor Dan Lister) who is managing it. Let's try and sort this out like gentleman. I have a 10,000-strong petition ready now and I'm going to hand it in to him."
The council also says the market now costs taxpayers £180,000 a year to run, rather than making a profit as it has done in the past.
Fitzy said: "They want to look at their costs, they are the ones running it, not me. If I was running the market it wouldn't show a loss. They're running it down purposefully."
West Northamptonshire Council has been contacted for comment.