Market fears as Ashfield District Council tightens belt
MARKET traders could end up paying more for their stalls as Ashfield District Council plans to cut £1.3 million from its budget.
The council is drawing up its budget for the next financial year and says in may charge more for stalls at markets in Hucknall, Kirkby and Sutton-in-Ashfield.
The authority says it is making savings due to various financial pressures, including cuts in grants from central Government.
It also has to make up for a decision last year to hand out a £250 one-off payment to lower-paid workers – estimated to have cost the taxpayer around £75,000.
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The council expects to make savings of £72,000 in its budget for markets.
But Sheila Robinson, treasurer at the Hucknall Tourism and Regeneration Group, said: "I don't think taking more money from the markets is going to help the town centres.
"Markets are already declining because of a previous increase in prices. They are an important element to Hucknall town centre. We're supposed to be a market town.
"They one-off payment to council staff should not have been made. The money should have been pumped into the towns instead, for example, the markets."
Ron Walker, chairman of Kirkby Rotary Club, agreed. He said: "Reducing the markets budget by more than £70,000 a year does not sound good.
"In Kirkby, any time after noon the town centre is dead. They need to do something to make it a better place to go into."
Other proposals include generating £59,000 from putting up fees and charges. This includes a five per cent rise in allotment fees, an increase of trade waste collection fees of three to 4.5 per cent and an increase of around 20 per cent in fees for the collection of bulky waste.
The council is also proposing to freeze council tax for a third year running.
Council deputy leader Councillor John Wilmott said he was happy with the budget proposals. "We have to make efficiency savings because we can't spend what we haven't got," he added.
The proposals will be discussed by the council's cabinet at 5.30pm tonight, before being discussed by the full council at a meeting at 6pm.