RENTS are to increase in Pontypool Indoor Market for the first time in 12 years, it has been announced.

Torfaen cabinet on Tuesday decided to increase rents for permanent stall holders from the current £40 – £144 a week to £200 per square metre a year and will introduce leases for the first time.

For example, a trader who currently pays £120 a week for one of the larger stalls in the market will see their rent go up to £170 a week – an increase of £2,600 a year.

The news comes as a bitter blow to stallholders, who are already struggling in the current economic downturn.

The fears are that it could force some traders to leave the market.

Sally Dixon, from Market Florist, said: “It’s going to affect all the traders, as this means our rent will increase.

“It may force some of the traders out of the market. It’s a real worry, as footfall is shocking, so the trade doesn’t support the increase.”

There is currently no set formula as to how much stallholders pay, as it is not calculated per square metre, but under the new system, stallholders will pay a set amount depending on the size of their stalls, which will see some rents rocket.

A report to council said there has been a lack of methods in setting rent, with no rent review or increase for at least 12 years.

Traders relocated to smaller temporary stalls during the renovation work of the Jubilee Building and the planned work on the Market Hall, due to start in May, will be charged a reduced rent rate of £25 per week.

If traders are able to continue trading fromtheir current locations, they will receive a percentage reduction.

Following the refurbishment work, new and existing traders will be offered a three-month temporary license, a 12-month license, or a lease for multiple years, which the council said would provide an opportunity for traders to invest in or expand their business, and would give them greater rights.

Cabinet members agreed to a charge for stalls based on the average figure of £200 per square metre, inclusive of rent and service charges but excluding electricity.

The news sparked concerns among the already-underpressure stallholders.

Gaynor James from the stall Individuality said: “I don’t see how a lot of them will afford the increase, as traders are struggling now.

“The market will look lovely following the refurbishment, but it will be no good if there are no traders.”

Terry Baker, from the stall Terry’s Books, said: “If after the revamp footfall increases then it may be worth it.

“If the council is serious about the town centre then we need shops under cover and a car park closer to the market”