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Market traders may benefit from council rent relief scheme

Traders at Swansea's award-winning indoor market are set to benefit from a £200,000 package to help tide them through the pandemic.

Swansea Market

A report to Cabinet next week is seeking approval for a package of measures that involves rent subsidies between now and November and follows cancellation of rent payments of £368,000 during the weeks of closure.

The proposal will also offer further protection to traders who are still unable to operate due to Welsh Government restrictions or those who are having to continue to shield themselves from the virus.

Robert Francis-Davies, Cabinet member for Investment, Regeneration and Tourism, said the steps were recognition that while lockdown is easing, market traders still face challenges in the months ahead.

He said: "The council has worked flat-out over the last few months to support traders. For example, when the market was forced to close in March we agreed that those who were able to could continue to use it as a distribution centre for online services at no cost.

"Since the re-opening of non-essential shops last month just over half of our market traders have returned.

"Some, including nail bars and hairdressers, have not been able to re-open because of government restrictions and some of the café areas are only able to service takeaway rather than sit-down food.

"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 £200,000 to the traders.

"Over the coming months we'll be keeping the position under close review and we'll be continuing to listen to carefully to the traders and their representatives."

The report to Cabinet on July 16 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 supporting traders through tough times.

A survey of local authorities operating markets elsewhere showed that most were introducing full rent more quickly than proposed for Swansea with some doing so straight away.

The report also noted that the market is in the middle of a £439,000 investment programme that includes new toilets currently under construction and plans to transform the central casual area into a new destination for people to meet, greet, eat and enjoy events.

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

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