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Newcastle Grainger Market traders' anger over council rent

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  • Coronavirus pandemic
image captionThe Labour-led council said more than £59m in support had been handed out to businesses in the city.
Traders in Newcastle's Grainger Market have hit out at the city council for refusing to help with rent payments during the coronavirus crisis.
Businesses said they had to pay even when they had to close during lockdown.
Leslie Armstrong, who runs Scented Melts, said she was getting 50% of her normal trade since reopening in June.
The council said it was financially incapable of offering free rent and most traders received a £10,000 government grant to help pay costs.
According to the National Association of British Markets (NABMA), 93% of operators offered to charge no rent or defer payments to help small businesses.
However no such help was offered by Newcastle City Council, the Local Democracy Reporting Service said.

Flexible payments

Ms Armstrong, who has run her fragrance and gift business for a decade, accused the Labour-led council of a "lack of empathy".
"We have enough to deal with already with all the measures for social distancing and making shops safe for ourselves and for our customers," she added.
Karl Wilson, of Wilson's Bead Boutique jewellery shop, said the £10,000 business support grants were needed to cover other costs such as payments to suppliers.
"There was nothing to stop the council pausing rent collections until it was known what support would come from government, and now there is also a longer term view to take into account," he added.
The council said more than £59m in support had been handed out to businesses.
It said its priority was to continue providing services for the most vulnerable.
A spokesperson added: "As this pandemic has impacted on so many businesses, the council has treated all tenants, including the Grainger Market traders equally.
"Options include flexible payment terms and extending repayment plans over considerably longer terms than previously, all dependent on individual circumstances."
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