OPPOSITION leader Ed Miliband will visit Mexborough tomorrow (Friday) to support the town’s embattled market traders.
And he will be greeted by a massive petition of FOUR THOUSAND names – gathered inside weeks to oppose the huge hikes demanded by DMBC which will be phased in over the next two years.
The Labour leader and Doncaster North MP has joined the traders in protest against the proposed market rent rise of up to FIVE HUNDRED per cent set to be imposed by Doncaster Mayor, Peter Davies.
The stallholders claim they could not afford the draconian increases, which they claim could leave the market half-empty, or even shut down completely.
Mayor Davies has justified the increases, saying the traders have not received a rent increase in 15 years and the council could not continue to subsidise the rents.
Phil Toon, 57, treasurer of the Mexborough Market Traders’ Association, told the Times: “Mr Miliband came out publicly in support of us months ago, and we have been in contact with him all the way through this.
“This is the earliest chance he has had to visit us, and we are glad to welcome him to the market.
“We explained to him that the Mayor is totally out of touch with reality.
“We understand he has approached Mr Davies – but it has fallen on deaf ears.
“We would accept a reasonable increase, but this would put many of us out of business.”
“Mr Davies knows nothing about Mexborough. When we raised £3,000 for the Air Ambulance a couple of years ago, he was supposed to come and present a cheque.
“But he didn’t even know where our Market Hall was... he turned up at Wetherspoons!”
In a letter to the South Yorkshire Times last week, traders published a table showing how the rises affect current rents and the traders are in no mood to back down.
Veteran market trader, Gordon Smith, revealed that traders have already spent hundreds of pounds on legal advice to fight the rent increases.
He said; “We are going to fight this all the way. We are very serious about saving businesses in the market and by implication the town centre.
“If Mayor Davies manages to end 800 years of markets in Mexborough – what kind of achievement will that have been for him?”
A stallholder, who asked not to be named, branded Mayor Davies a “hypocrite” after he welcomed news that Doncaster High Street was the fourth most resilient in the country and Doncaster Market being voted Britain’s best market.
The trader said: “To be honest, he is more interested in Doncaster town centre rather than smaller businesses like ourselves.
“They are doing nothing for us – we are just being treated like the poor relations.”
*NEXT WEEK’S TIMES WILL CONTAIN A FULL REPORT OF THE VISIT.