COUNCILLORS claimed Dudley’s town market is dying as they approved an increase in fees for street traders.

During a meeting of the council’s Licensing and Safety Committee on February 5 members voted by seven to two for a two percent increase in fees.

The hike will apply to a number of services, including licences for street trading and scrap metal collection, but does not include alcohol or taxis.

During the debate Councillor Michael Evans said: “I’m concerned, I remember when our market was thriving. Dudley Market is dead – that worries me.”

Councillor Elaine Taylor added: “Bilston is thriving, Dudley isn’t. Our market is dying.

“If that means changing the people running it – we need to look at all avenues.”

Dudley Market is managed by Tudor Markets which also operates markets in Stourbridge and the south east of England.

Cllr Taylor said: “We have to look at what’s best to bring the town centre back to life, if we have to make changes, we have to make changes.”

The committee’s deputy chairman, Cllr Alan Taylor said: “Dudley tends to be on the down rather than on the up – some development might bring it back.”

Tudor took over Dudley Market in 2017 and says footfall and uptake of stalls in and markets is always lowest at this time of year.

Scott Simpson, Tudor’s general manager, said: “For our markets across the country, January and February see the smallest number of traders, it starts to increase in March.

“You have got to start regeneration when the weather is better and people are out.”

“We are working with Dudley Council on a regeneration plan following our successful summer events.”

The company ran a number of funday events in the summer which attracted as many as 24,000 visitors to the town.

Speaking at the time, Cllr  Paul Bradley, deputy leader of Dudley Council, said: “It was brilliant to see Dudley Market looking so busy with lots of families enjoying the sunshine and some great free activities. 

“The excellent footfall figures recorded during the fun days show the potential of the market as a place for events.”

Mr Simpson also welcomed wider regeneration of Dudley town centre along with improved transport links.

He said: “There is a lot of transformation, regeneration can only be a good thing.

“We are going to be working to help traders get off the ground, we will help traders from the beginning.”