THE once-thriving Newport Market - which is set for a massive redevelopment - has become a ghost town, with fewer than 10 stalls now occupied.

And some traders in the historic Grade II-listed building have accused Newport City Council of failing to give them the vital help they need to stay afloat in what has proven one of the most tumultuous periods for retail in recent memory.

With a £12 million redevelopment by property developer LoftCo due to get under way soon, a number of traders have left Newport Market in the last few weeks - including D9 Models, Nesta's Niche, and Chilly's Traditional Sweet Shop, which is now based online.

And others have moved elsewhere in the city centre – Rae Barton is now based in Kingsway Shopping Centre and Xclusive Jewellery has moved to a unit on High Street.

As a result, there are now fewer than 10 stalls open at the indoor market - despite there being space for more than 100.

Some traders have expressed dismay at what they perceive to be a lack of help from Newport City Council – stalls within the market are currently on limited hours (10am to 3pm) and have struggled with reduced footfall and the back entrance to the market being closed.

South Wales Argus:

Marie Wheeler, who owns The Curtain Company, said: "People ask us what's happening, but we are in limbo and just don't know what to say due to all the uncertainty.

"There’s no traders left... just glorified beggars looking like fools.

"We're trying to hold out until development but it's a struggle to pay full rent, especially with less footfall. It's unlikely I'll be able to hang on much longer."

South Wales Argus:

(The lobby of Newport Market)

A statement from Newport City Council said: “Covid-19 has meant that some restrictions have been put in place in order to keep the public safe.

“Doors are closed in order to allow us to implement a one-way system of movement around the building. We have worked with traders as much as possible during this period to make sure any safety restrictions do not impact negatively upon them.

“The council agreed a rent-free period for all traders to reflect the impact of Covid-19 on the operation of the market.

“This ended at the end of July, after the market was able to re-open. Invoices have been sent out for August and will continue to be sent for those still trading up until the point their licence or lease expires in accordance with the notice period.

“For traders wanting to be part of the new market development, they are able to agree a new lease with LoftCo.”

South Wales Argus:

(The former record store at Newport Market)

A.D. Turner & Sons butchers and Pat’s Fine Foods plan to relocate in January, meaning they will not be involved with the redevelopment.

James Thomas said: “I’ve worked at Turner's for 25 years and you can see the difference.

“We’re looking to move premises in January. The developer said he wouldn’t increase rent, but he is introducing a service charge which essentially doubles our rent.”

South Wales Argus:

(James Turner at A.D. Turner & Sons)

A spokeswoman for LoftCo said: “With regards to the service charge, this is just a true reflection on what it costs to actually run and control a building.

“It is not a profit-making exercise, it is simply maintenance, security, insurance, sinking fund for any future issues inside the building, cleaning, management of the site, janitors etc.

“These are all well controlled costs, audited each year and freely available to anybody in the public.

“Newport Market is a huge Grade II-listed building that will need to be managed properly and run in an effective and efficient manner, moving forward for the benefit of everyone.

“Thus, we believe it is fair that each person relative to the place they hold on the site, just pays the actual net cost of their section of the building as they will then enjoy a well maintained, well run and secure facility that we generally believe will increase the footfall up to ten times and be a landmark building for the rejuvenation and re collaboration of the community inside Newport.”

Tim Rees, who owns and runs Friendly Neighbourhood Comics - formerly Negative Zone Comics - plans to remain and be part of the development.

South Wales Argus:

(Tim Rees plans to remain in Newport Market)

Mr Rees said: “I’m on board with the development; I’ve weighed up the costs of moving and it’s not worth it.

“A lot of my business is based on standing orders and, as comics are a luxury niche item, I have a dedicated following and a great customer base.

“Restrictions have had an impact on footfall though, especially at this end of the market with the large door closed.”