TRADERS have demanded an apology from councillors for suggesting they are to blame for the rat problem on Church Green and the poor state of the market.
Stallholders on Redditch Market hit back at claims reported in last week’s Standard by members of the borough council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee that the dirty and scruffy appearance of the market was damaging the impression of the town.
A spokesman for the traders said they felt let down by the comments by Coun Alan Mason and they were also appalled at the suggestion the rat problem was because of rubbish they left behind.
“All traders at the end of trading do adhere to rules and guidelines set out by the council, whereby all market areas are cleaned by stallholders and council workers, ensuring no litter is left behind.” he said.
“We feel the signage and local takeaway outlets are partly to blame [for the rat problem] along with the general public who feed the pigeons, drop litter around the market place and on the green, including the holocaust memorial.
“We feel the comments raised by Coun Alan Mason should be retracted and an apology given as we feel it is a misrepresentation and disrespectful towards traders and an insult to council litter pickers who we feel do an excellent job.”
He also blasted the council for failing to support the market when they were taking more than £100,000 a year in rent and for failing to consult traders over a review by consultants, due to report this month, which could see the market run by a private firm and potentially reduced to three days a week.
“We have been asking for new covers for the stalls for the last 18 months and nothing has been done.” he said.
“If they bring in a private company rents will go sky high and people will leave the market.
“People will go bankrupt because it’s their livelihood. If you are working five days a week would you be able to survive on a three day wage?”
But Coun Mason said he had no intention of apologising as he checked the area on a weekly basis and regularly found waste and had photographic evidence to back it up. However he admitted more needed to be done to stop people leaving food for the pigeons on Church Green, which was adding to the rat problem.
“There’s no reason I should apologise because as far as I’m concerned it was dirty but we are going to be doing a lot with the market in future.”
A spokeswoman for the North Worcestershire Economic Development unit, which runs the market, added: “We are happy to discuss these issues direct with the traders’ representatives. We all want a sustainable and thriving market for residents and visitors alike. Only by working together can this be achieved.”