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Market traders in line for new cash boost

TRADERS at Swansea's award-winning indoor market are to benefit from another substantial cash injection to help tide them through the current lockdown.

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Cabinet next week (Feb 18) is being asked to approve a package of measures that involves rent subsidies of up to 70%, which would be backdated from the middle of November 2020 and run to the end of the financial year.

It follows cancellation of rent payments and other subsidies totalling more than £600,000 since the pandemic started last March.

Robert Francis-Davies, Cabinet member for Investment, Regeneration and Tourism, said there was probably no council-operated indoor market in England and Wales which is being better supported.

Together with the latest rent subsidy and funding for market improvements such as new public toilets, improved entrances and development of a smart new multi-use central area, the council will have invested more than £1m in the market this year alone.

He said the latest steps were recognition that market traders will continue to face challenges in the months ahead and that the council was committed to the market's recovery and success after the pandemic.

Some traders have been able to continue operating during the current lockdown because they provide essential services like food or takeaways. But the vast majority have had to close and that's affected overall footfall.

Cllr Francis-Davies said: "Our city is immensely proud of its indoor market and our seven-figure investment in supporting the traders is a reflection of our commitment.

"The council has worked flat-out over the last few months to support them. It appears that the rent subsidies we've provided have been among the most generous of all UK market operators.

"We're extending this support and commitment with over £400,000 of investment in new toilets and other improvements. Our team's energy and determination to help the market has not stopped and work on these important improvements has continued to take place during the pandemic.  

"We recognise that the months ahead will continue to be unpredictable which is why we've introduced a rent subsidy programme that is worth a total of £217,000 to the traders during the current Alert Level 4 period.

"Apart from the direct and indirect support we've put in place, many market traders have been entitled to claim a series Welsh Government business grants worth up to £10,000 each in some cases.

"It is hoped that in addition to the grants and support available to traders from Welsh Government, this further rent subsidy will make a real difference."

The report to Cabinet said the subsidy programme was designed to strike a balance between generating income to cover essential market overheads including staffing, lighting, cleaning, maintenance and other services and continuing to support traders through the pandemic.

Last year Swansea Market was named Britain's best large indoor market in the Great British Market Awards.

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