Darlington Indoor Market traders on new energy support

Market traders have expressed hope that they will be able to keep trading over the winter after the Government announced a new package of energy bill support

Many traders in the Darlington Indoor Market have been struggling with the increasing cost of running their businesses, with some fearing they were only weeks away from going under.

However, they have expressed hope that the newly announced support, which could roughly halve the price paid for wholesale gas and electricity by non-domestic customers, will improve their situation.

The scheme means that the Government will provide a discount on wholesale gas and electricity prices for an initial 6-month period between October 1 and March 31.

Read more: Darlington Market’s 15 traders that have either closed or relocated

The government has set up a supported wholesale price (expected to be £211 per MWh for electricity, and £75 per MWh for gas), which is less than half of the wholesale price that was anticipated for this weekend.

Darlington Indoor Market has seen a spate of traders closing shop over the last few months, including Mulholland and Son Butchers, and Fenwick’s Family Butchers, both of which had been staples in the market for decades.

Graham Madderson, the owner of J & G Delicatessen, told The Northern Echo that he is “totally over the moon” with the government’s plans.

“It is better than what I expected, and will take us back to the rate we’d be paying for our normal bill”.

Robin Blair, the owner of JJ Blair and Sons, has worked in the market for more than 60 years and said he had “never seen anything like” the current cost of living crisis.

The Northern Echo: Robin Blair at his stall in Darlington market: Picture: Sarah CaldecottRobin Blair at his stall in Darlington market: Picture: Sarah Caldecott

“It’s been a really worrying time for us, but this will be a big help. We’ve had to look at both sides of it – the price of our energy, and how that affects the prices of our products. We don’t want to put prices out of people’s reach.

“Fuel, both liquid and energy, has become the biggest cost to the running of our business.

“Currently, we are on an energy contract, but we’re due to come next month, so our energy tariff would have gone up massively if not for the government.

“The scheme is a few weeks too late for businesses that aren’t contracted, energy has been a high cost. Six months is not long enough, so I hope the support available is reviewed.

“Small businesses are the backbone of the business world and the fabric of the country; their protection is really important. I hope that it works for the good of the town and the villages”.

A trader who wished to remain anonymous said: “Obviously, this will help. Lots of people have been concerned about rising energy costs.”

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“The market lost traders when the energy price rise happened, so it is a shame that this wasn’t eight weeks ago.

“Small businesses can sell in a week with the way rent is these days.

“Fenwick’s was here for decades, and they were working hard, but they received an energy bill of £2500 for a month. It was a huge shock for them.

“My bill was £600 last month, which is parallel to my rent, but I can’t turn off my fridges and freezers.

“There are millions of small business owners like me up and down the country, and we just wouldn’t have been able to keep paying our bills. I wouldn’t have been able to stay open this winter without this.”

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