Market traders fear for future as they fight to recoup lockdown losses

Market traders from across the region have pleaded for sustained support to help them recoup lockdown losses.

Many stallholders have benefited from Government grants and deferred council rent payments - but the future of lots of family-run firms still hangs in the balance.

Nichols Seafood, on Great Yarmouth market, is one of those family firms.

Owner Christine Nichols-George fears that the 75-year-old business may not survive if there is a second spike of the virus and they have to shut again."This has hit us very, very hard," she said. "If it blows up again, it will kill us. If we have to shut down again I don't think we'll be able to survive."

Darran and Christine Nichols-George on their market stall. Credit: ITV News Anglia

Just across the way in Yarmouth's market is another local institution.

The pie and pea stall has been around since 1946 - and Gary Salmon still sells his "secret recipe" mushy peas for £1.

He said: "We've been through the three-day week, power cuts, decimalisation, different governments, different strikes. We'll get through this one if we all stick together."

Great Yarmouth Borough Council said traders were given a three-month rent deferral for the lockdown period when most weren’t able to trade.

In St Ives, in Cambridgeshire, the council has suspended pitch fees - and parking charges to encourage more visitors.

The market has also been relocated to help with social distancing - although traders say this has reduced footfall.

"The first two or three weeks, hardly anybody was about," said trader Bob Steele. "It was like a ghost town.

"The last three or four weeks people are getting more confident and they are coming out again."