Only the “sheer loyalty” of customers keeping Ridley Road Market going

Ridley Road market in Dalston.

Ridley Road market in Dalston. - Credit: Archant

Traders and shoppers are worried about the future of Ridley Road Market as Hackney Council proposes to increase fees for stallholders.

Ridley Road market in Dalston.

Ridley Road market in Dalston. - Credit: Archant

The market which started at the end of the 1880s is facing cuts to its annual £180,000 subsidy as the council says it can no longer foot the bill for clearing the street at the end of the day.

Hackney Council wants to up traders’ fees and charges by up to £3 to £10 a day.

Plans to introduce the revised fees - which would take effect from April - have been sent out in a consultation document to all market traders and shop front licence holders.

The idea is that markets and shop fronts would be self-funding by 2017.

Sue Baldwin who was worked on Ridley Road Market for 36 years, said: “The charges will affect lots of people’s lives.

“For most people, working here is all they know and if the new fees came in then some people may struggle to continue, without their stalls I don’t know what they would do.

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“It’s the younger people that I really feel sorry for as they do not know what their future holds.”

Ridley Road Market, which runs between Kingsland High Street and Dalston Lane in Hackney, is home to 125 food and clothes stalls.

The borough’s markets are currently subsidised out of general council funding by more than £180,000 per year, and a significant part of this is the cost of clearing up waste.

More than £550,000 is spent on cleaning, removing and disposing of market waste every year in Hackney, and about £500,000 of this is attributed to Ridley Road Market alone.

Proposals to increase fees for market stall holders and shop fronts, in some cases by £10 a day, were announced by Hackney Council in December.

Jennifer Trembley, 65, of Dalston, has been shopping at the market for more than 10 years and thinks it would be a “real shame” should traders have to start closing due to the charge hike.

She said: “The market is synonymous with shopping in Hackney, for a lot people it’s there first port of call for many essentials they need.

“It would be a real shame if stalls started closing and people stopped coming due to the lack of options, its very worrying.”

Cllr Feryal Demirci, cabinet member for Neighbourhoods and Sustainability, said government funding cuts are the reason why subsidising the market is no longer possible.

She added: “The council has for many years been subsidising its markets.

“However, against the backdrop of severe government funding cuts, this could no longer continue and we need to fairly balance the needs for all residents and businesses in the borough.”

Mrs Baldwin added: “It just feels like a constant battle with the council to overcome more and more obstacles they put in the way.

“It’s only thanks to the sheer loyalty of our customers that keeps the market going.

“I have been so surprised by how many people feel so strongly about shopping here so it would be a real shame if stalls started closing.

“I just don’t understand why the charges are needed as nothing has changed with how we collect and get rid of waste in the 36 years I’ve been working here.”