STALLHOLDERS have thanked their customers for forcing the council into a u-turn over ground rents for markets.

Ian Chisholm, 52, took the decision to close the monthly Essex Farmers’ market which he runs in George Lane, South Woodford after the council raised ground rents from £15 to £28 a trader.

He said the rise meant he would have to charge traders £60 each, making it impossible for many of them to continue.

And he told the Guardian the rise meant that the popular monthly market in Wanstead High Street would also be in danger.

But after the Guardian broke the news last week, the council received complaints from both traders and shoppers and has now decided to drop the rent rise.

Speaking yesterday, Cllr Shoaib Patel, the council’s cabinet member for community safety, planning and enforcement, said: “I have received some feedback from businesses in reaction to the rise.

“After listening to what traders have to say, and recognising that these are still difficult economic times, I have decided to suspend any increase in fees until further notice.“

Mr Chisholm, who sells eggs from his farm in Norton Mandeville at the markets, was unaware of the decision, and was delighted when he found out about the u-turn.

He said: “This is extremely good news which puts us on a much firmer footing.

“I am glad the council have taken this decision.

“Provided we are not put in the same position in a year’s time, then I believe Wanstead market can go from strength to strength.”

But he added that the market in South Woodford might not return.

He explained:  “I will need to sit down and discuss things with my manager.

“But South Woodford was not drawing the same numbers as the market in Wanstead and we are already in advanced discussions over other sites, including Chingford.”

Several traders who sell their produce at both markets were at a special Olympic farmers’ market at Valentines Mansion in Ilford on Sunday.

Paul Stone, 54, of Sudbury Stone Meats of Rhyne Park Farm, said: “A lot of people from Wanstead came up to us saying they had read the article in the paper.

“They all said they would be getting in touch with the council to complain about the rise, and that has obviously had an impact.

“We would like to thank them for speaking up for us because we love the market in Wanstead and value their custom.

“As far as South Woodford goes, it was not as well supported as Wanstead and we would need to think hard about returning there if the decision was taken to re-open it.”

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