Long-serving trader predicts closure of Burnley Market

UNHAPPY TRADER: Burnley Market Hall trader Phil Rathbone
UNHAPPY TRADER: Burnley Market Hall trader Phil Rathbone

A Burnley Market stall trader of 30 years says he is being forced out by Burnley Borough Council and that he fears the market will soon close.

Mr Phil Rathbone, who has run Sheena’s Fancy Dress for three decades, has hit out at the council after receiving a number of strongly worded letters.

He said: “I was last on a three-year lease but last year, due to health concerns and falling trade, decided to take a one-year lease.

“I then received a letter from the council basically saying I would have to give up all my legal rights and would have no right to stay in the premises when the lease ends.”

Shocked by the tone of the letter, Mr Rathbone (62) took legal advice and refused to sign the lease.

He has since received letters stating he is in arrears for his rent, which he claims, Burnley Council is refusing to accept from him.

He added: “I have now tried to sign a three-year lease which the council is refusing and is also refusing to take my rent. I have also been asked to pay £200 plus VAT for a new lease, which has never happened before.

“I think all of this is because the council bosses are planning to close the market.

“The council is not spending a penny on the market, and I think it will be closed within months. I have worked hard for 30 years on this market but this is making me ill. I feel cheated.”