NEIL Hamilton, MS for Mid & West Wales, and Leader of UKIP Wales has demanded that the Labour Welsh Government takes urgent action to safeguard the future of market traders in Wales.
Mr Hamilton is calling for immediate measures to be taken to help people who run market stalls all over the country.
Writing to Ken Skates, Mr Hamilton called on the Minister for Economy and Transport to intervene and save market traders who are struggling to make ends meet during the Covid-19 lockdown, which now enters its thirteenth week.
“I was horrified to learn that market traders have fallen through all the financial ‘safety nets’ and receive no compensation. They have been abandoned by the Welsh Government. It is grossly unfair that market traders, the vast majority of whom are loyal, hard-working, popular and essential members of their local communities, have received no assistance from the Welsh Government which continues to grandstand its obstinate lockdown policies.
“I have been contacted by stallholders all over Mid & West, from some of the oldest markets in Wales, who fear for their businesses after months of silence from Cardiff Bay. England has given financial support to market traders and has eased lockdown measures, but market traders in Wales are denied vital financial support and are forced to remain in lockdown by Mark Drakeford’s Government.
“There is a rising tide of anger and resentment at the way they have been left out of all compensation packages, whereas their counterparts in England have received essential support. They have rents to pay and most, to be ready for the now-cancelled season, will have ordered and paid for their stock before lockdown and it now languishes in storage as a dead weight.
“Their modest requests have fallen on deaf ears in the Cardiff Bay bubble. How are small towns in rural Wales to get back on their feet if the market traders have been forced out of business and have to cease trading?
“The Welsh Government must stop trying to score political points and, instead, must provide hardworking people with the tools needed to rebuild their businesses after lockdown. The country must be allowed to get back to work in a responsible manner so we can get the Welsh economy moving.
“It is not too late to try and salvage the situation and give our market traders parity with those in England. Local authorities must have discretion to award business rates relief grants. They need help now!”
In a letter to the Minister, Mr Hamilton urged the Welsh Government to listen to the desperate pleas from traders and take immediate action or risk losing this vital asset to local communities forever.