TRADERS at Oxford’s Covered Market have urged councillors to stop squabbling and focus on helping their livelihoods after a political row broke out.

Oscar Van Nooijen has resigned from a scrutiny panel formed to look in detail at potential rent rises averaging 40 per cent.

The Labour councillor stood down over a political row about an election leaflet distributed by the Liberal Democrats.

He took issue with the flyer issued before a by-election on Thursday being held in the North ward after the resignation of former Lord Mayor Alan Armitage.

The leaflet said Lib Dems were spearheading efforts to save the market – but Mr Van Nooijen said this was a party political point that had no place on a panel that was supposed to be non-political.

But traders are unimpressed with all sides in the row.

Sandie Griffith, who owns flower shop Jemini in the market, said: “I think they should be concentrating on getting the right rent deal.

“We need councillors who actually do things instead of just talking about it. To be fair, the Lib Dems and the Greens have been quite supportive of us.

“But comments about multiples (big companies) coming into the market and things like that aren’t very helpful.”

The row comes after traders branded as misleading a Green Party leaflet claiming the council, which owns the market, planned to let chain stores open there.

Vicki Alder, from shoe shop Macsamillion, said: “I don’t think politics belongs in the market.”

Mr Van Nooijen, in a letter to Lib Dem councillor Jim Campbell, who leads the scrutiny panel, said it had been doing “valuable work”, but he had seen a leaflet which claimed Lib Dems were “at the forefront” of the campaign to save the market.

He said: “The scrutiny review was a bipartisan effort, set up by Jean [Fooks] and me, with unanimous support from the members of the scrutiny committee”.

Lib Dem leader Jean Fooks, who is also a member of the panel, said: “What Oscar objected to, I think, was the suggestion that we were leading it (the campaign).”