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Covered Market in trouble

first_img10 out of the 58 businesses in Oxford’s Covered Market are looking to sell. Stall owners are blaming proposed rent increases of between 20 and 90 per cent, as well as competition from the internet. Smoothie vendor Moo Moo’s faces the largest rent increase, though its premises are little more than “a shed”. The Oxford Boot Store is due to close. Staff member Matt Lintern described the rise in rent as “the final nail in the coffin.” Resentment towards the city council is running high among traders. The manager of Next to Nothing claimed that the council “don’t seem very interested” and that “everyone knows they’re not helping.” Sandie Griffith, manager of Jemini (one of two florists) and secretary to the Covered Market Traders’ Association, described the proposed rent increases as “disastrous.” Jemini had to halve the size of its premises from four units to two and the number of staff from 15 to eight after the previous rent rise five years ago. Lintern said that the Covered Market used to be “more like an indoor market than just a big cafe.” Griffith stated that the market now sees “more of a tourist industry” and alleged that the council used to adhere to an informal policy of keeping rents low in the Covered Market and reserving stalls for independents, especially those that are “labour intensive”, such as butchers, fishmongers, florists and bakers. Several chain stores now have premises in the Covered Market, including Timpson’s and Cards Galore. The manager of Cards Galore told Cherwell that he was unaware that the rent was increasing, and did not know how much the rent was in the first place. He claimed that the only person who does know works in London. Executive member for city development, Colin Cook, told Cherwell, “This situation is not just down to high rents. It’s partly as a result of the age of some of the traders, who are looking to retire and cash in their chips.” Griffith was “incensed” with Colin Cook’s statement. She argued that even if this were true, it would be impossible for older traders to sell and retire because of the proposed rent increases. Cook also said, “There is still room for negotiation over rent increases and the level of increase could come down during negotiations.” The Covered Market Traders’ Association has its “own surveyor in negotiation with the council”. Sharon from Timber Treasures said this “could be the end of the Covered Market.” Lintern said, “By the time they [the council] realise it’ll be too late.”last_img read more