TRADERS at Bury Market have slammed the “paltry” support they say they have received and the measures implement to reopen stalls amid the coronavirus pandemic.

A number of stallholders have hit out over what they claim are small or unpaid government grants and rent-free periods which, together with a fall in customer footfall and coach trips, they say represent a “death warrant” for the market.

They claim this issue will be made worse by reinstating parking charges.

Meanwhile, another trader has voiced concerns about the restricted access to market entrances and closures of market toilets as part of measures to prevent the possible spread of Covid-19.

It comes after the market largely returned to socially-distanced business last month following the coronavirus lockdown.

In response to the traders' frustrations, Bury Council has said that it has “done far more for traders than has been provided elsewhere”, and its measures had been “warmly welcomed by traders who are happy to be back in business”.

As part of efforts to mitigate the effects of lockdown, Bury Council announced that some £1 million had been distributed to traders through discretionary funding and small business grants, worth between £10,000 and £25,000.

However, Marcia Lee Jones, who runs the Kiss & Make Up stall, claimed that the vast majority of traders had received “paltry” grants of between £1,000 and £,3000 ­- with only about 70 being given grants of around £10,000.

Others are yet to receive a penny from the government, traders said, causing “unnecessary financial suffering”.

Consequently traders have asked for the grants to be doubled.

In addition, they have also lambasted the rent-free periods introduced by the council and requested three months' rent-free on reopening.

Ms Lee Jones said: “This 600-year-old market is being run by a council which basically does not care, and has bigged itself up to look like it's done right by us.”

She added: “The rent-free period is only two weeks. The market has spun it was three-and-a-half months.

“For three months the traders were forced to close ­- it was illegal to trade.”

Ms Lee Jones said: “There are no coaches coming in, and actually may not ever return, as National Holidays, Wallace Arnold, Shearings, and Caledonian Travel have all gone into administration.

“We are coach attraction of the year. Without this audience we are doomed.”

Traders are also appealing for parking charges not to be reintroduced.

Cllr Jane Black, cabinet member for the cultural economy, said: “In addition to central government funding received, the value of Bury Council’s support package for the market is substantial.

“Many other market towns have not acted in this way.

“At a time when budgets are stretched because of years of austerity and a pandemic, this council has done far more than many other market towns to support and protect market traders, and to develop a strong vision for its long-term future.”

Trader Richard Newgrosh owner of Chatley’s Menswear, has condemned what he labelled a ‘chaotic system’ of restricted access to some entrances.

He also branded the closure of one of the market’s toilets a ‘disgrace’, adding: “A lot of disabled people need the nearest loo and I can’t understand a reason for it.”