A CHRISTMAS market which attracts thousands of visitors has been threatened with closure after Staffordshire Moorlands District Council demanded £450 for the hire of stalls.
Ipstones Market Night was started 14 years ago, and since its formation has attracted thousands of visitors to the hilltop village and raises money for businesses and good causes.
However, at last week’s meeting of Ipstones Parish Council, market organisers met with parish councillors seeking support after they had been informed of the £450 fee for this year’s event.
Chairman of the committee, Andrea Bond, said the event was now in danger of closure.
Mrs Bond said: “We have been told that we have to pay £450 for the stalls.
“There is no breakdown in the cost. It is a lot of money to find. We simply can’t do it.”
Committee member Chris Ramsay said: “This is the death knell of the market, which has become part of village life
“It has been established over the years and proceeds have been raised for good causes. It is not now worth doing and we will have to wrap it up as it is not financially worthwhile.”
However, after hearing of the proposals this week, district council leader Sybil Ralphs, told the Post &Times that it will not be charging £450 for the stalls.
Councillor Ralphs said: “No way will we be charging a community group of people who work their socks off to raise money for good causes and help businesses.
“I do not know where this figure has come from, but I will be investigating the matter.
“The Moorlands council fully supports community groups and businesses. The Ipstones event offers people a good market with entertainment. New pop-up stalls were bought for the three towns and rural areas. The Ipstones group is welcome to have the new stalls, which are easy to erect.”
Parish and district councillor for the area, Linda Malyon said: “It is very sad that the Moorlands council had stated it was to start charging for the hire of stalls, as they have been purchased from a grant from the Government’s Mary Portas High Street Initiative fund.
“The market helps businesses across the district at a time many are on a knife edge.”
Councillor Patrick Stimpson added: “All we are asking for is the hire of the stalls for one night. Why can't they let us have the old ones which we had last year? “The council keeps saying it wants to promote business in the district, but can't give us to stalls to help them.”
More than 50 market stalls, many which are taken by organisations and businesses from all over the Moorlands, are situated along Church Lane which is closed to traffic, and also inside the adjacent Memorial Hall for the annual event.
The parish council agreed to write to the district council on the issue.