ANGRY traders at a Northumberland market have raised fresh concerns over the quality of new stalls they have been given following a £3m facelift.
The major revamp of Blyth Market Place has already provoked a row over increased rental costs and claims that the new stalls are not robust enough to withstand even moderately strong winds.
Now traders have complained to Blyth Valley Borough Council that water dripped on to their stock at Saturday’s market when frost, which had been absorbed on the inside of the stall canopies, was then melted by the sun.
Traders say the problem was caused by the synthetic material used in the new canopies and the fact that the stalls were erected by council workers at 4am in extremely cold conditions and a heavy frost.
Yesterday Michael Nicholson, Blyth branch secretary of the National Market Traders Federation, said: “We have yet to find out how many traders have had stock permanently damaged.
“If they have, I wonder if they be compensated by the council which insisted on supplying them with equipment unfit for purpose.
“These new stall canopies are made of synthetic material, rather than the canvas which covered the old ones, and seem more prone to frost and ice.
“On Saturday I am told the frost had got inside the stall covers and water was then deposited on the traders and their goods when it melted.
“It was also the fact that the stalls were erected at 4am. In the old days the council delayed putting the covers on the stall until the traders arrived for the market.
“Most of the stalls had water pouring down inside them.”
Blyth Market has already been cancelled twice, because of warnings of strong winds, since reopening on November 7 following the market place revamp. Stallholders say they warned the council months ago that the new stalls, described as four-legged tents, would not be robust enough to withstand even moderately strong winds, but claim they were ignored.
The reopening was also marred by claims that traders are being charged too much for stall space.
Yesterday a spokeswoman said the council was aware of complaints about water dropping from the stalls at Saturday’s market, and is carrying out an investigation.