COVERED Market traders are expected to find out next month how much rent they will have to pay for the next five years.

The market is owned by the city council and talks between traders and the council on the latest rent review began last year.

In April compromise talks collapsed and the issue is now being handled by an independent arbitrator.

The following month Chris Farren, head of the Covered Market Traders’ Association, called for rents to rise in line with inflation — nearly 10 times less than the figure the city council wants to impose.

The council proposes to put up the majority of rents by as much as 70 per cent.

Mr Farren, who pays £33,000 a year rent, said earlier the CMTA’s submission to the arbitrator would be that traders should pay no more than a 7.5 per cent increase.

Rents will now be decided by an arbitrator from the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, with a group of five traders not affiliated to the CMTA being dealt with first.

Secretary of the CMTA Sandie Griffith, who runs Jemini flower shop, said: “It’s a nervous wait for traders and we want this sorted out as soon as possible.

“But the arbitration process takes a certain amount of time and you cannot rush it. We want it to be good and fair.

“The result on the first five traders could influence the CMTA case, although you can’t presume that.

“It costs both sides lots of money to go to arbitration but unfortunately the two sides were unable to reach an agreement. It seems to be the same every time and it’s quite distressing for traders.

“It will be a huge relief when it is all concluded.”

City council spokesman Eva Oliver said: “There are currently five rent reviews which are to be determined by an arbitrator.

“While we do not have a date as to when the arbitrator will make his award, we anticipate this will be in August.

“The new rents for the five units will then be as set out in the arbitrator’s award.

Oxford City Council has agreed with the traders a group arbitration for all those tenants in the organisation, using the same arbitrator.

“Following agreement of procedural matters, the consolidated arbitration will then progress.

“It is hoped, following completion of the arbitration in respect of the five reviews, that it will be possible for a negotiated settlement to be reached.”

Colin Cook, executive board member for city development, said: “The rents proposed are market rents in line with comparator businesses in the city centre.

“Where those comparators do not exist, an assessor uses his professional experience and that is why some rents could go up by 10 per cent and some by 70 per cent.”

Last year one in six firms in the market, which dates back to 1774, said they were looking to sell up.

Traders have launched a petition found online at

So far about 11,000 people have signed the petition with the goal being 20,000 supporters.

The market was originally built to rid city streets of “untidy, messy and unsavoury stalls.”

Street markets in Fish Street, now St Aldate’s, and Butcher Row, now Queen Street, were stopped by the Oxford Mileways Act of 1771.

John Gwynn, the architect behind Magdalen Bridge, drew up the plans and designed the High Street front with its four entrances.