THE owners of a florist shop in Ilkley have been dealt a blow after Bradford Council agreed a flower trader could take up a market stall outside their premises.

Gill Lambie and Suzanne Bower, owners The Green Room Florists on The Grove Promenade, fear the decision could be devastating for their business.

They said: “We believe this decision by Bradford Council Markets Department is not only short sighted it is fundamentally wrong. No consideration or thought has been paid to the long-term gains versus losses to Ilkley town centre. This action will almost certainly see financial losses to our business, with the most likely out come being a cease in trading.

“Whilst this situation will be personally devastating it will have wider consequences; an occupied shop in a prominent position on Brook street carpark will likely stand empty adding to the two other retail units within the vicinity that have recently become unoccupied. The revenue gained from the market stall occupied twice weekly; £21 a week; will pale into insignificance against the revenue lost in business rates though our inevitable closure.”

The pair have appealed to local councillors to help fight the decision but have been informed by the markets department the trader will be taking up the stall on Tuesday and Saturdays, beginning on Saturday, March 23.

Councillor Alex Ross-Shaw, Bradford Council’s Portfolio Holder for Regeneration, Planning and Transport, said: “We believe the new market stall, which will also sell fresh fruit and vegetables, will be an attractive addition to Ilkley town centre.

“The introduction of the Real Food Market in 2016 has been very successful and brings people into Ilkley. It shows the appetite for quality markets as an attraction for town centres and we are looking at ways of expanding the Ilkley Market.

“Ilkley has a great history of market trading. The market at South Hawksworth Street car park has been going in one form or another since 1972 and the town has a market charter dating back all the way to the 13th century.

“The council cannot prevent businesses from trading on a market because similar products are already available from another retailer.

“This would limit consumer choice and compromise competition. Small-scale business like these bring choice and innovation to town and city centres while providing entrepreneurial opportunities for new and expanding businesses.”

But Gill and Suzanne added: “Whilst competition is welcomed, Ilkley is not, and has never been, a market town; allowing a trader to stand outside our business selling the same goods whilst incurring none of the overheads for such a prominent position is a disgrace.

“Furthermore, we are deeply saddened that the Government’s stance in supporting small business owners has been trampled over with such disregard.”