CUMBERLAND Council has stated its support for the survival of Carlisle's Market Hall at a time when traders fight an uphill battle against deteriorating conditions and a steep rise in service charges. 

The Carlisle Market Traders Association recently aired grievances including an unexpected '50 per cent' hike in service charges and poor maintenance.

Concerns were also raised about the "lack of communication" with the site's property manager, Ryden.

A spokesperson for Cumberland Council commented that despite the hall being leased to a 'private company and not directly managed by the council', they want to ensure the market's success.

"The Market Hall is an iconic building that supports local traders and we encourage shoppers to stay local and shop local.

"As the owner of the building we want to see the market thrive and be a success. Therefore we have been in discussion with the traders and the managing agents to help get any issues resolved as quickly as possible," they said. 

The Victoria-era market, which was once thriving, has now fallen to around 20 traders, losing one earlier this year due to the current financial pressures. 

A spokesperson from the traders association criticised the decision to withdraw £3m in funding that was previously secured from the central government money to improve the site last year. 

The funding was later distributed to six other Carlisle Town Deal projects.

"Now we're seeing £4m allocated, which we're not disputing Carlisle needs, but to move a war memorial and put benches in the Greenmarket when £3m was originally allocated to us," they said. 

"Now the council is spending over £100m on Carlisle city centre but can't help keep the market going.

"We've got this beautiful Victorian market, one of the very few left in the country.

"Everybody here is so disheartened because we want it to thrive," they said.  

In response, a spokesperson from Cumberland Council said: “We investigated a proposed reconfiguration of the Market Hall as part of a Towns Deal funded project. 

“The proposals included the creation of an events space and communal seating areas, however unfortunately due to funding constraints the scheme could not be progressed. 

"We still have a desire to implement improvements to this important city centre facility should funding become available.”

The traders have also stressed a decline in foot traffic since the closure of adjacent store, Wilko's, last year.

They have called for the opening of Wilko's doors, advocating it as a public right of way that could help bolster visitor numbers and stand as a lifeline for businesses.

Property management firm Ryden has reiterated their previous statement.

"We are actively engaged in conversations with our clients, the owners of Carlisle Market Hall, at this moment.

"We are not in a position to comment further but we will continue to deal with occupier queries as required," they said.