Get involved! Send your photos, video, news & views by texting WN NEWS to 80360 or e-mail us
Traders’ parking victory after council climbdown
COUNCIL chiefs have U-turned over controversial plans to charge craft fair exhibitors in Worcester £7.50 to park at the Guildhall.
After an uproar from the hobbyists, the city council has decided to ask them to pay £4.50 for all-day spaces instead. The traders, most of whom make little or no profit from the events, were featured on our front page in August, threatening to boycott the city.
About 25 stallholders regularly stage craft fairs at the Guildhall on Saturdays, and before now were allowed to park onsite at the building for free. Bosses have now relented on the £7.50 charge, and have agreed to reduce it by £3 in a bid to appease them. The stallholders still insist parking should be free, but have lifted the threat of boycotting Worcester.
A spokeswoman for the traders said: “We’re not happy with paying £4.50, but at least it’s better than what we were first being told to pay. Our position was that it should be free, or at the very most £3.50 to match the prices at Tallow Hill car park or some others in the city.
“We do get fewer people coming in and buying things. Customers come in and browse but they haven’t got the money to buy these days.” The craft fairs cost £655 to stage, and Zoe Coldicott, aged 68, who organises them, also pays around £125 insurance and spreads out the costs to the traders.
The events, which have been going for over a decade, attract stallholders from areas such as Tewkesbury and Oxford.
Councillor Lucy Hodgson, the cabinet member responsible for customer services, said: “Nobody likes to impose charges but this was a difficult one. We were aware they wanted to go lower but we felt £4.50 was a reasonable suggestion, and was similar to prices elsewhere in the city. So while it wasn’t possible to go as low as they wanted, we were happy to reduce it down to what we believe is fair.” Councillor Richard Boorn, Labour’s finance spokesman, said: “There is an element of victory about this because the charges are not in the spirit of what the craft fairs are all about.
“What we’d like to see now is an undertaking the council won’t increase it next year.”
The Guildhall’s car park is closed to the public.