Newcastle’s Grainger Market costs Council £300,000 a year

Grainger Market in the heart of Newcastle City Centre is costing the City Council hundreds of thousands of pounds Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

Newcastle’s historic Grainger Market is costing the city council £300,000 a year to run due to the impact the pandemic’s had on traders. 

Stallholders now owe the City Council more than half a million pounds in debt from the last two years.

The drain on the Council’s budget also comes from the restoration of the market’s roof, which is two years behind schedule and over its £5m budget. 

Many traders have criticised the council following its refusal to cut rent during 2020 despite them having to close due to lockdown, which left many with no income. 

The government stopped debts being collected during the course of the pandemic but that suspension ended last month. 

Leaders of Newcastle City Council now say they will give the market’s businesses time to pay their arrears and and support them in doing so.

The figures come following a report by the Council’s director of place Michelle Percy. 

At a council meeting this week, she told the authority it needed to “balance the books… but not lose stallholders”.

She continued: "The traders are not refusing to pay, they are just saying that they need some time and support. The whole uniqueness of the Grainger Market is the traders and we must retain them and give them time to bring their arrears up to date."

A spokesperson for Newcastle City Council said “The Government imposed a moratorium on debt during the pandemic which only came to an end last month.

"While we await Government guidance on the process to recover that debt, we have written to all Grainger Market traders to say we want to support them in helping them pay down their debts.

"We expect this may take some time - but given the scale of the debt, we remain a patient landlord. We have invested significant sums in the fabric of the building to put it on a sustainable footing so it remains a part of the cultural and retail offer of the city centre for many generations to come."

Ms Percy’s report also highlighted that £7m of Levelling Up money will be invested into the Grainger Market with a £2m supplement from the council, which will “turn a currently resource draining asset into a successful operation.”

Details of how the money will be spent are still to be confirmed.