Traders split over ‘two-for-one’ stalls

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MARKET traders are at war over claims second-hand goods sellers are allowed to rent two stalls for the price of one.

New-goods sellers at Hartlepool’s outdoor market are calling for fair treatment after claiming second-hand traders are being allowed to rent double the space for half the price while others are paying the full price if they require more space.

But second-hand traders say they were told by Hartlepool Borough Council to spread their goods over two stalls to make the market look fuller and all sellers should work together and be grateful the market is still trading.

Hartlepool Borough Council raised the price to hire a pitch from £22 to £25 this month and second-hand sellers previously appeared in the Mail saying the rise would force them to close.

The Wednesday flea market, which sells used products, and the Thursday market, which sells new goods, amalgamated last year to both run on Thursdays, moving from the area adjacent to Victory Square to the car park behind York Road.

Mick Simons, 63, has been running an Army surplus stall for the past 18 months.

Mick, formerly from Hartlepool but now of Peterlee, said: “Basically we have been subsidising the flea market stalls for over a year.

“For 20ft of space, we get charged £50, but over there, they get charged half of that.

“We want to be exactly the same, it’s totally unfair.”

But Ron McEwan, from the Dale Park area of Hartlepool, who has been running his hardware and vacuum cleaner repair stall at the flea market for 20 years, said: “When the council moved us here, there were empty stalls and we were putting goods on them.

“The council said we could do that to make it look more of a market.

“I don’t know what they are complaining about. We are helping the market.

“A lot of customers come just for our side of the market.”

Carole Spence, 50, from the Bishop Cuthbert area, who pays £50 for four stalls on the second-hand side, said: “We are more confined over here, but they have so many feet of space over there.

“It’s the same length of space they have, just laid out differently.”

The new-goods traders also say the second-hand traders have their stalls put up for them by the council, while the new-goods sellers are left to put up their own.

But from next week, the second-hand sellers will also have to put up their own stalls.

A council spokesman said: “We received a letter from the traders on Thursday, highlighting some issues which they have with the market, and we are in the process of organising a meeting to discuss those issues with them.

“In the meantime, it would be inappropriate for us to comment further.”