Market traders slam bag charge

Reporter:

Rebecca Cole

MARKET traders and owners of small businesses have slammed the introduction of a charge on carrier bags.

A 5p charge was implemented by the Welsh Government on Saturday on single-use carrier bags.

Council trading standards officers will be enforcing the change and part of the proceeds will be donated to good causes

But Rob Clarke, chairman of the Wrexham branch of the National Market Traders Federation, described the move as another blow to small traders.

He believes the move could increase thefts from stalls and alienate shoppers from outside Wales.

He said: “I appreciate the need to reduce the amount of bags we use and I can see the point of big supermarkets who give out loads of bags all the time.

“But it’s just yet another thing for us to worry about at a time when we’re struggling anyway.”

He said many stallholders were struggling with the details of the new rules. Mr Clarke said: “Nobody’s very clear on the legislation and what little information we have had seems to be very muddled.

“Because people aren’t going to want to buy bags, they’re going to be walking around with things in their arms.

“We’re going to have to be much more eagle-eyed to spot what’s not been paid for.”
Mr Clarke said there is also confusion over what businesses can do with the proceeds.

He wants to donate to Wrexham Supporters Trust but is unsure if he can.

He added: “It’s going to mean more paperwork and I’m worried it will alienate shoppers from England who won’t know about the change and won’t want to shop here.”

Some shop assistants in Flintshire are bearing the brunt of customer anger.

Helen Jones, of Trade Secret in Mold, said: “On Saturday most people brought their own bags but the ones that didn’t weren’t very happy at all.

“It was like it was our fault. One even said we’d be charging them to breathe next. We did try to tell them it wasn’t us personally, it was the Welsh Government and to help the environment, but they still weren’t happy.”

But Antony Fecci, manager of A. Fecci newsagents, Mold, said the charge had been working well.

“There’s no problem with it, most people bring their own carrier bags with them.

“Our turnover of carriers has gone right down which is good because it’s what we want.”

Andrea Roberts, customer services manager at Sainsbury’s in Flint, said: “It was really good over the weekend.

“Customers were fine about it. One pence from the five pence goes to our local charity of the year, Flint RNLI. We had a good response but we didn’t think we would.”

A spokesman for Asda, which has two stores in Wrexham, said: “We’ve been doing a lot of work in preparation for the change and gave out free ‘bags for life’ all last week to get people started and raise awareness which customers really appreciated.”

See full story in the Leader

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