Market traders' anger at landlord

ANGRY traders in a Weston market are fighting back against an 'absent' landlord who they claim is letting the place become rundown.

ANGRY traders in a Weston market are fighting back against an 'absent' landlord who they claim is letting the place become rundown.

More than two years since developer Kilmartin bought Dolphin Square, the shopkeepers say their area is badly in need of maintenance and a higher profile.

While the company's extensive revamp plans for the area have been put on hold, its tenants are demanding more help to survive.

Pam Bytheway, who has owned the market's hardware stall with her husband Alan for 20 years, said: "We have a square with a landlord that appears to have disappeared off the face of the earth.

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"We pay our full rent and service charges every month, but there's no money for maintenance or marketing.

"In the meantime, the minimum that most of the traders will have to keep going is for the three years."

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To boost footfall the traders have clubbed together to fund an advertising campaign and have planned to host events in the square.

But Mrs Bytheway, a grandmother of five, says the market needs to be smartened up and given a fresh lick of paint to lure more shoppers.

She added that about 30 families depend upon Dolphin Square for their livelihood.

The traders' claims are backed by an incident in November, when shoppers were surprised by an urban fox falling through ceiling tiles into a pile of bags in Dolphin Leather Goods.

Shopkeepers say that since the news of its redevelopment broke, many people from outside Weston have assumed Dolphin Square is no longer there.

Another problem is the lack of public toilets following the closure of the Carlton Street block last year.

Chris Knight, manager of Living Homes, in Dolphin Square, says the lack of facilities forces potential customers away.

Mr Knight, who is also Weston Chamber of Trade and Commerce president, said: "The shopkeepers are struggling against the perception that there's no market here any more, but everybody is still there until the building is knocked down.

"They have to keep going, but they're stuck between a rock and a hard place."

A spokesman for Kilmartin was unavailable for comment.

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