Deal in pipeline to end row over rent rise at Oxford's Covered Market

The Covered Market

The Covered Market

First published in News Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter covering Rose Hill, Iffley and Littlemore. Please call me on (01865) 425422

An agreement could soon be struck to end the dispute over rent rises at Oxford’s Covered Market.

Oxford City Council said traders are expected to back a 16 per cent rise for all firms though it is not known if they will pay back-rent.

It would end a row which began in April 2012, when the council wanted most rents to go up, with some as high as 70 per cent.

Members of the Covered Market Traders’ Association will meet on Wednesday.

Spokesman Sandie Griffith said: “We have got to take the offer to our members and there is a chance we would accept it.”

The final rent rise would determine how much back-rent traders would pay from January 2012.

Council spokeswoman Chofamba Sithole said: “The Covered Market Traders’ Association has indicated a willingness to accept the council’s compromise offer of an across the board increase of 16 per cent and not to proceed to arbitration.

“There has been no final agreement, as the increase was due to operate from March 2012 and further discussions will be required on the actual operative data and the terms of payment of the consequential arrears in rent.”

Mary Clarkson, the councillor responsible for the market, said: “I think we have got the basis for an agreement now, without going to arbitration.

“I’m happy we can get together over the next week and haggle something out.

“It means we can get something settled much more quickly and move on with the other things we want to do in the market.

“The last two rent reviews have been appalling and nobody wants to be in this situation.”

Vicki Alder, of the market’s Macsamillion shoe shop, said of the plan: “Personally, I don’t particularly like it but I believe it’s a solution which will bring everything to an end quickly.

“It would show good faith from the council that they realise they cannot keep beating us with a stick and it would show faith from us that we can accept 16 per cent.”

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